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Govt eyeing $13-b Manila Bay airport

The Transportation Department is set to propose to President Benigno Aquino III the construction of a $13-billion international airport in central Manila Bay, one of the potential sites recommended by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

“We have gotten the pre-feasibility. This is a site location study for the new international airport. We hope to push it up to Neda [National Economic and Development Authority] board,” Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya told reporters.

Joseph Emilio Abaya
The Neda board is chaired by President Aquino.

Abaya said Jica recommended two locations out of five sites considered for the new international gateway in Manila. The two are the Sangley Point in Cavite and central Manila Bay.

“I think these are the viable locations,” Abaya said.

The government wants to build a new international airport that is 25 to 30 minutes away from Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Parañaque City, which is expected to reach its full capacity soon.

Jica said Naia would hit overcapacity this year, by which time the airport would handle 37.78 million passengers. By 2040, passenger traffic would reach 101.49 million.

Naia accommodated 31.88 million passengers in 2012, exceeding the 30 million yearly optimal capacity of the terminal. Its maximum handling capacity stands at 35 million passengers a year.

San Miguel Corp., which used to operate Philippine Airlines, earlier proposed to build a new international airport at a reclaimed area along the Manila-Cavity Coastal Road for $10 billion. San Miguel returned the control of PAL to tycoon Lucio Tan.

The proposed airport would have an international and domestic passenger handling capacity of 75 million passengers a year, with scalability to accommodate more than 100 million passengers.

It would be only 11 minutes away from the Makati central business district via a new airport expressway.

The Transportation Department said it was now focusing its efforts on airside operations, through its Naia Runway Optimization Project, which aimed to maximize the use of the runway and increase hourly air traffic movements from 40 up to 60. 

The agency tapped world-renowned air traffic management expert Nats Services Limited, which started gathering data at the airport this week. 

Nats will submit its recommendations on Naia’s current airspace, runway and terminal capacity, air traffic and surface operations, runway access points, and air traffic controllers’ training within the next six months.

The Manila International Airport Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines will jointly implement the recommended improvement measures for the ensuing six months.

Topics: Manila Bay airport , Joseph Emilio Abaya
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