Cebu Pacific says DOTC eyes 3 options to decongest NAIA

By Joey Pavia, BusinessMirror

Posted at Jul 03 2012 08:03 AM | Updated as of Jul 03 2012 04:03 PM

CLARK FREEPORT—Cebu Air, operator of Cebu Pacific airline, is closely coordinating with the national government to “exhaust all options” in decongesting the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

In an interview here on Friday, Cebu Pacific vice president for marketing and distribution Candice Iyog said they are coordinating and working with the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) “to apply at least three options” before the planned reduction of flights at the NAIA proposed by DOTC Secretary Manuel A. Roxas is implemented.

“Of course, we always follow all orders from the DOTC. But we hope other options will be considered first so that the reduction of flights will be avoided,” said Iyog, who invited Pampanga-based journalists for a briefing.

The transfer of general aviation from NAIA to Sangley Point naval station in Cavite is one option, Iyog said, which could decrease the load by as much as 17 percent on total daily flights at the Manila airport.

Earlier, Roxas said in news reports the DOTC will coordinate with the Department of National Defense “to use the naval station’s runway for the 82 general aviation flights per day or about 7 flights per hour during daylight, including ‘fish runs’ that use NAIA.”

Iyog also noted the DOTC’s approval of at least P600 million for the construction of two Rapid Exit Taxiways at the NAIA. She added that two taxiways will reduce the time an airplane stays at the main runway after landing, facilitating more flights at the country’s premiere airport.

Also contributing to the congestion of NAIA, according to Iyog, is the lack of night landing facilities in other airports in the country which crowded flights during the daytime hours.

The DOTC has said it will allot at least P900 million for the installation of night landing equipment and facilities in 14 airports in the cities of Tagbilaran, Legazpi, Dumaguete, Butuan, Ozamiz, Cotabato, Naga, Dipolog, Roxas, Pagadian and Tuguegarao, at Busuanga in Palawan, in Surigao province, and San Jose in Mindoro.

The DOTC disclosed that the NAIA’s runway has an average of 48 take-offs and landings during the peak operating hours at daytime. It added that “the runways’ current structure intersects with one another, thus can only handle an average of 36 take-offs and landings every hour.”

The result is at least 12 flights are delayed per day, said the DOTC.

The Gokongwei-owned Cebu Pacific has more than 2,000 flights per week which provides “already a considerable strain on the NAIA,” said an industry observer.

In 2011, the airline with 2,800 employees carried 45 percent of the total domestic passengers in the country.

Cebu Pacific has also the most number of flights at the Clark International Airport with Hong Kong, Macau, Bangkok, Singapore and Cebu as destinations.

From its regional destinations, Cebu Pacific Air is priming for long-haul flights to Europe, the United States and Australia in 2013, Iyog said.

Cebu Pacific is poised to increase its number of passengers served this year, already registering 3.37 million in the first quarter, which is 20.1-percent higher compared with the same quarter last year.