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NAIA set to get P1.2 billion for new air traffic management system

The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) is set to receive some P2.8 billion for infrastructure projects including P1.2 billion for the acquisition of a new traffic management system following the New Year’s Day breakdown that disrupted hundreds of flights, an official said Sunday.

According to House Committee on Appropriations Vice Chairperson and Makati City Representative Luis Jose Angel Campos Jr., some P1.2 billion in the proposed 2024 budget was allocated for the communications, navigation, and surveillance - air traffic management (CNS-ATM) system which seeks to improve the efficiency of the country’s main gateway.

“We are counting on the new CNS-ATM system to optimize airspace and airport efficiency, reduce flight delays, and improve travel experience,” he said in an emailed statement.

“Our hopes are high that the new system, once installed and fully functional, could potentially increase airport capacity to accommodate more flights in the years ahead,” he added.

This comes as at least 282 flights were canceled, diverted, or delayed on New Year’s Day, affecting 56,000 passengers due to an outdated system.

Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista in January cited the need for a backup system, as the current system in use — estimated to be worth P13 billion — is already in its midlife.

Last month the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board, chaired by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., opted to push through with plans to privatize NAIA through a solicited bid with the upfront payment cost now being studied and initially estimated at P30 billion.

This comes after the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) in June submitted a joint proposal to the NEDA Board seeking a private concession to invest and improve the NAIA for 15 years.

The NEDA Board approved the 15-year concession period, with the option to renew for another 10 years based on a performance review, and should the two new airports — the New Manila International Airport in Bulacan and the Sangley International Airport in Cavite — be delayed.

Before this, the Manila International Airport Consortium (MIAC) in April submitted an unsolicited proposal to take over NAIA, but this was deemed “de facto closed” when the government opted for a solicited bid.

The group includes Aboitiz InfraCapital Inc., AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp., Asia’s Emerging Dragon Corp., Alliance Global-Infracorp Development Inc., Filinvest Development Corp., JG Summit Infrastructure Holdings Corp., and US-based Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP).

At present, NAIA’s terminals service over 40 million passengers versus its 32-million annual capacity, with 38 to 40 landings and takeoffs made per hour. — DVM, GMA Integrated News