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DOTC suggests closure of NAIA as option for future of PHL airport system

April 25, 2013 4:30pm

(Updated 4:41 p.m.) Malacañang is considering a number of options regarding the country's airport system, including the closure and sale of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the head of the Department of Transportation and Communications said Thursday.

Transportation Secretary Emilio Joseph Abaya told the Makati Business Club during its general membership meeting that the DOTC has forwarded three options to President Aquino:
  • a single airport system that would involve the closure of NAIA and the development of Clark International Airport in Pampanga;
  • a dual airport system which would involve the development of the Clark airport as well as the maximization of NAIA operations until 2025 while looking for a new airport site 25 kilometers or 30 minutes away from the existing gateway; and
  • the dual NAIA-Clark airport system, with a third alternative airport something that can be decided on later.

“Previously, the direction was to move all NAIA’s current operations to Clark International Airport within the next five to seven years,” Abaya said in his speech.

“What is clear now is that we need Clark to absorb some of the traffic in NAIA. Even if initially, it seems more cost efficient to have a single main gateway, there are dual airport systems existing around the world that actually perform well commercially,” he said.

The transportation chief also said that other Cabinet secretaries are leaning towards the second option, with the new gateway perhaps involving the reclamation of Laguna de Bay or Manila Bay as well as Sangley airport in Cavite.

Abaya also said that the department is looking into increasing NAIA's capacity to 60 landings and takeoffs per hour, from the current average of 40 an hour. He added, however, that there is no land available to extend the runway of NAIA or put up a new terminal there.

“We will be seeking approval from the President to aggressively expand and promote Clark while at the same time continuing the ongoing improvements and upgrades that will maximize NAIA’s capacity. The studies we’ve been doing show that both can operate at the same time without compromising commercial viability,” he added.

The P360-million expansion of Clark's terminal is set to be completed in October. It will double the airport's capacity to five million passengers from 2.5 million. The airport is also looking into establishing a new budget passenger terminal.

Passenger volume at the Clark International Airport surged 62 percent in the first quarter of the year compared to the same period last year.

“We expect this to further increase as we are anticipating the start of the Emirates non-stop daily flights between Dubai and Clark and vice versa on October 1,” Clark airport's chief executive officer Victor Jose Luciano said Wednesday. — BM/YA, GMA News




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