MANILA - The government is initially spending at least P2 billion to put up an alternative runway parallel to the existing runway to ease traffic congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya told reporters on the sidelines of the 23rd World Economic Forum (WEF) East Asia that the first phase of the project would involve the construction of a 2.1-kilometer runway parallel or south of the existing primary runway 06/24.
“The first phase is P2 billion but we have to verify that. The new runway could allow Airbus A320 to land,” Abaya said.
According to him, the government would have to study the proposed runway as this could displace close to 600 houses in the Merville Subdivision beside the 400-hectare NAIA complex.
“Probably our biggest challenge is the 600 households that will be affected. We’re still verifying if they are informal settlers or private owners. I think at the end of the day that’s going to be the biggest challenge,” Abaya said.
Since the project would involve expropriation of land and relocation of families to be displaced, the DOTC chief said the agency needs the help of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) as well as the National Housing Authority (NHA).
“The plan is the government will finance the relocation. So we need help from DPWH and NHA since we are not an expert in relocation,” Abaya added.
Another concern, he added, is the possibility that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) could withdraw the certification of the existing runway once a new runway is constructed beside it.
“We’re also checking with ICAO. They are saying that when you have a precision landing certified runway and if you construct a new runway beside it the existing certification will be cancelled. We don’t want this to happen,” he said.
The DOTC chief said he has tasked the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to check with ICAO so as not to compromise the certification of the existing runway.
He pointed out that the idea of constructing a new runway came from diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) which also owns national flag carrier Philippine Airlines Inc. (PAL).
Abaya said SMC and PAL argued that the Los Angeles Airport has a similar set up of parallel runways.
He added that the additional runway would increase the landings and take-offs at the congested international to between 60 and 70 events per hour from the current 40.
The NAIA was built in 1981 with two intersecting runways – primary runway 06/24 and secondary runway 13/31. Aviation authorities to cap the number aircraft movements at 40 per hour as it decided to move general aviation flights to the Sangley airport in Cavite.