DOTr speeds up Sangley work to decongest NAIA

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DOTr speeds up Sangley work to decongest NAIA

MANILA, Philippines — Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade vowed to “do whatever it takes” to fulfill President Duterte’s order for the immediate start of full operations of the airport in Sangley Point, Cavite to decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Tugade in a statement yesterday said he has directed construction work to be done around the clock to develop Sangley Airport to meet the operational timeline set by Duterte.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) ordered the hiring of additional manpower, implementation of extended working hours and infusion of additional equipment starting today.

“Whatever it takes, we need to make sure that the directive of the President is delivered. Hire more manpower to work 24/7. This needs to be completed on or before the timeline set by President Duterte,” Tugade said.

Duterte has directed the operations at Sangley Point to start immediately, according presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo.

During last Monday night’s 38th Cabinet meeting, Tugade detailed proposals to convert Sangley Point or the Danilo Atienza Air Base into a General Aviation (GenAv) hub to accommodate domestic flights.

DOTr Undersecretary for aviation Manuel Tamayo said operations to be moved from NAIA to Sangley would include the GenAv area and possibly some turbo prop flights of local airlines.

General aviation refers to light aircraft operations and training planes.

DOTr Assistant Secretary Goddess Hope Libiran said Philippine Airlines is expected to do their survey on Friday, while Cebu Pacific intends to have some of their cargo flights using turbo prop operating at Sangley.

In compliance with Tugade’s directive for the accelerated construction at Sangley Airport, DOTr Assistant Secretary for procurement and project implementation Giovanni Lopez met yesterday with members of Task Force Sangley that include representatives from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), Philippine Air Force (PAF), the ferry system and project contractor.

Lopez said critical developments in the project such as the runway, apron, passenger terminal building, power supply, drainage system and site development are well underway.

CAAP was instructed to work closely with the DOTr on the civil works so that the support facilities can be immediately incorporated for the airport to commence operations at the soonest time possible.

An ocular inspection was also held on the possible site of the ferry station, wherein the contractor was given two months to construct the port in coordination and compliance with the regulations of Philippine Ports Authority, CAAP, PAF and the Philippine Navy.

The DOTr said the contractor has agreed to the submission of a weekly progress report alongside a weekly site visit and inspection by the agency for close monitoring of the construction.

A meeting is scheduled today between aviation stakeholders and the DOTr and its attached agencies such as CAAP and the Civil Aeronautics Board to discuss the move of certain operations to Sangley.

“PAL supports the move because it will decongest NAIA. This will considerably ease up ramp and air traffic and with that, the commercial aviation stands to benefit,” PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said.

“We support efforts to improve NAIA and will work with the government to achieve this. Transferring general aviation or private aircraft movements to Sangley will yield immediate positive results for NAIA. We will continue to cooperate with government on other measures that will make the passenger experience better,” Cebu Pacific spokesperson Charo Logarta-Lagamon said.

Duterte wants the NAIA to lessen air traffic congestion and delays of flights.

“He expressed dismay and hinted at its (NAIA management) revamp,” Panelo said adding Duterte wanted airport security to be handled by a single entity, either from the uniformed services or civilian forces.

The President wanted to develop the Sangley Airport in Cavite for the transfer of the GenAv area and its hangars that still occupy a large portion of NAIA as one option to ease the problem.

GenAv operators are engaged in air charter, air cargo, aviation training, aircraft maintenance and corporate flight operations.

Long overdue

The GenAv area could accommodate planes ranging from single engine Cessna light planes to Airbus A320 passenger jets for domestic flights.

The possible transfer of the GenAv to Sangley Point had been previously discussed by some airlines that said they will support the move to decongest the NAIA.

The transfer of GenAv was planned during the term of former Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Angel Honrado in July 2016 but was not implemented.

The move was supported by PAL, which said that it will support the government’s decision to transfer the operations of the GenAv area to decongest the airport.

PAL’s chairman and chief executive officer Lucio Tan had expressed support to the government’s decision to move GenAv operations to either Sangley, Clark Field in Pampanga or Subic.

Tugade announced earlier that he would soon transfer GenAv operations to Sangley Point to further decongest NAIA. – With Rudy Santos