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Philippines: Airport regulator requests for six months to decongest NAIA

Airport regulatory agencies have requested the House Committee on Transportation for at least six months to accomplish the directive to free up the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager, Eddie Monreal, argued during the hearing of the House panel on the bill compelling the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the MIAA to introduce a rationalization program for the country’s biggest airport, that it is next to impossible to transfer airport operations out of the country’s busiest airport in a mere 45 days as ordered by House Speaker, Pantaleon Alvarez.

Monreal disclosed that most of the airline firms have asked for six months to comply with the said directive. One carrier – Cebu Pacific Air – has even asked for a whole year.

“It’s quite difficult to move, really move forward, with 45 days,” Monreal said.

The panel’s chair, Catanduanes Representative, Cesar Sarmiento, deferred the committee’s action on Monreal’s request. He asked Monreal to submit a position paper so that the committee would be apprised of the moves.

In previous hearings, the committee asked the MIAA and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to decongest the NAIA and move several flights to Clark International Airport, which is located in Pampanga.

NAIA domestic terminals 2 and 4 were made to cater to 10.5 million passengers. However, it was reported that it catered to a whopping 20.6 million passengers last year.

During the hearing, Sarmiento advised the MIAA and CAAP to include in its position paper where the flights would be moved to. He stressed that the Clark Airport can only accommodate up to 4.2 million passengers, but excess passengers at the NAIA have so far reached 10 million already.

Cebu Pacific Air submitted a position paper to the House committee and expressed its opposition to the proposal to transfer domestic flights to Clark.

It argued that realigning the airlines from one terminal to another does not change the fact that NAIA is operating beyond what it was made for. Cebu Pacific described the proposed actions as both burdensome and inconvenient, especially for Filipinos who are working overseas who would have connecting flights through Clark.

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