MANILA, Philippines - Manila's low-cost carriers (LCC), which were asked by the government to reduce their flights to ease congestions, said Ninoy Aquino Internaitonal Airport (Naia) could accommodate more commercial airplanes if the general aviation sector (GenAv) is eventually driven out of Naia to a new location at Sangley Point in Cavite.
Also, flying schools and “fish-run” airplanes, which are piston-powered that airlift marine products from the provinces for export to nearby countries, have pulled out of Naia.
Airport authorities said fish-run operators are now constructing fish-processing facilities at Sangley Point, while the Air Force’s 15th Strike Wing is also waiting to be relocated to the Lagindingan Airport in Cagayan de Oro.
Meanwhile, corporate jets, or luxury aircraft owned by titans in the local industry, have a yet to speed up leaving the Naia.
Data gathered by the Naia show that GenAv comprises about a third of total flights at the Naia.
The LCC operators said if all of them agree to relocate to Sangley, there would be no need to reduce commercial flights, disturb the growth of the tourism industry and inconvenience the public.
Despite the use of the new procedure called land-and-hold short operations (Lahso), congestions still trouble the Naia, sometimes delaying flights by as much as 45 minutes.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said congestions could be resolved once the eight provincial airports are upgraded by providing night-landing facilities. However, this would take time to implement and may take as much as early next year to be finished.
The Naia recorded 29.7 million passengers last year which is expected to grow to more than 30 million this year.
The airport logged 22,400 “runway occupancy” last year, or the total landing and takeoff of domestic and international flights.
This means that during peak hours, the two runways have a total of 96 landing and taking off at the same time. This information belies the claim of some airport officials that Naia could handle only 40 aircraft per hour.
Naia’s performance was achieved despite its having only one international and one domestic runway, whose design prevents simultaneous use.
Airport experts said this could be credited to the expertise of air-traffic controllers, who had to make do with antiquated equipment.
In the absence of sophisticated paraphernalia, the air-traffic controllers were able to maximize runway occupancy using the two intersecting runways with the use of Lahso.
This involves giving an aircraft landing clearance and ordering the pilot to stopping short on a runway intersection while another could be taking off or landing in the other runway.
“This requires pilot cooperation to balance the needs for increased airport capacity, efficiency and safety,” according to a reliable source, who requested anonymity because he is not allowed to talk on the matter.
The use of Lahso is allowed on two local airplanes, the ATR 72 turbo propeller of Cebu Pacific, and Q3 and Q4 turbo planes of Philippine Airlines. A320 and bigger aircraft which have longer landing distances are not allowed to execute a Lahso.