DOTC chief says 'Category 1 status within reach'

By Iris C. Gonzales, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 23 2011 05:00 AM | Updated as of Jan 23 2011 01:00 PM

MANILA, Philippines – “We are leaving no stone unturned in getting back our Categoy 1 status,” declared Secretary Jose P. De Jesus of the Department of Transportation and Communications as he keynoted the 2nd Philippine Aviation Summit held at the Main Function Hall PAF Aerospace Museum Col. Jesus Villamor Airbase Pasay City, on Jan. 19, 2011.

In a speech read for him by DOTC Undersecretary Glicerio Sicat, Secretary de Jesus said only two key remaining items remain to be accomplished for Philippine aviation to get back to its Category 1 status – and thus enable Philippine carriers to expand routes in the United States and to be allowed once again to land on European soil.

“We are leaving no stone unturned in improving, upgrading, expanding and modernizing all aspects of Philippine aviation,” the secretary pointed out.

“The good news is that we are only a few steps away from getting back our Category 1 status,” De Jesus said.

De Jesus also cited a feasibility research entitled “Greater Capital Region Airport Rationalization Study” on a planned integration of operations of the NAIA in Metro Manila and the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in Clark, Pampanga.

The scope of the study includes three key areas: analysis of issues on airport development in Metro Manila, formulation of an optimum airport security plan; and preparation of a development plan for DMIA and NAIA.

He added that the aviation sector is being geared up “for the next challenge which is the Open Skies policy that may govern our flying community whether in its pure or altered form.”

The Transportation chief also said changes in the aviation sector include strengthening the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) by separating its operational functions from its regulatory duties, resulting in “efficient, responsive, and even caring airport operations.”

“It is a maxim of good governance that the functions of regulation shall be distinct and separate from the purely operational in order to install a built-in check-and-balance system within one sector,” the secretary stressed.

De Jesus recently appointed seven aviation professionals to key posts in the CAAP while its database undergoes modernization “for easy access and retrieval” of vital information about Philippine aviation.

The package of reforms unwrapped by De Jesus during the aviation conference also consisted of the commissioning of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 (NAIA3) for full commercial operations by yearend, and the construction or rehabilitation of many more international airports nationwide.

Underscoring the government’s thrust in developing further the country’s civil aviation sector, De Jesus described the projects he cited as “notable examples of our earnest and vigorous initiatives to build new international airports, to upgrade or modernize existing ones, and to pursue a sustainable program of airport improvements.”