DOTC taps UK firm to ease runway congestion at NAIA

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The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is enlisting the consultancy services of British firm NATS, renowned worldwide for its air traffic management expertise, to maximize runway use at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to ease congestion at the country’s primary gateway airport.

“We are excited to work with one of the world’s best firms in the industry towards optimizing NAIA’s runway capacity,” DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said.

“With NATS, which has worked on the Dubai, Singapore, and Heathrow airports, we can expect safer, more efficient operations, and much less flight delays and cancellations,” he said.

NATS provides air traffic navigation services to the world’s busiest single- and dual-runway airports: London Gatwick handles 53 air traffic movements (ATMs) per hour and over 250,000 flights per year; and London Heathrow handles 90 ATMs per hour and over 470,000 flights per year.


It has boosted runway capacity at the Hong Kong International Airport by 30 percent. It also redesigned Dubai’s Al Maktoum International Airport’s airspace, and is now tasked to increase ATMs at the Singapore Changi Airport.

The P66-million NAIA Runway Optimization project was awarded to the joint venture between NATS Services Limited and Schema Konsult, Inc. Over the contract’s 12-month span, the group will aim to increase hourly ATMs from 40 to 60, by determining the optimal configuration for the airport’s intersecting runways.

The roadmap for short- and long-term improvements will focus on the following outcomes:

• Optimization of runway capacity by cutting aircraft’s occupancy times;

• Developing air traffic controllers’ (ATC) surveillance capabilities through technology and determining needed alterations to access points; and

• Maximization of available airspace by reducing restrictions and making procedural improvements to tighten intervals between aircraft movements.

In the first six months, NATS will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the following: the airport’s current airspace, runway, and terminal capacities; air traffic and surface operations; runway access points; and ATC training for the first six months.

The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) and Civil Aviation Authority of the
Philippines (CAAP) will then implement the recommended improvement measures over the ensuing six months.

These agencies have also implemented certain steps to help ease runway congestion, such as the reactivation of Runway 31 in July and the relocation of general aviation activities.

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