• New airport needed despite NAIA upgrade

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    THE Philippines needs a new international airport to meet rising demand in spite of the ongoing upgrade of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said Friday.

    The government is being assisted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in its plan to establish a new airport, he said.

    “I think, JICA is formalizing its study,” he said, adding it will also cover alternative locations outside Metro Manila.

    “They [JICA officials] have mentioned Sangley Point [in Cavite]. We need to press ahead . . . We are awaiting for something that isn’t there so it will be safe for the government to proceed,” he said.

    The transportation and communication department earlier cited Sangley Point as a possible option for the location of a new international airport.

    Abaya said earlier that JICA recognizes the merits of Sangley Point as it is only 20 minutes by land transport to and from Metro Manila. Another option is a reclaimed piece of land along Laguna de Bay.

    He added that it is impossible to look for 2,000-hectare plot of land in Metro Manila which can host a new international airport.

    San Miguel Corp. (SMC) has showed an interest to build new airport to replace NAIA which is already old and congested.

    The conglomerate has spoken about building a new airport complex, comprised of four runways and a large passenger terminal building on an 800-hectare piece of land near Metro Manila. The project will cost US$10 billion. Abaya, however, said that the government has not received any submission yet from SMC.

    “I just read about this in the media. I haven’t received any formal or informal proposal from them,” he said, adding government policy tends to lean towards entertaining private sector development proposals.

    Operations at the NAIA were considerably disrupted, including cancellation of flights, in the summer of 2012 due to excessive traffic congestion around the airport. The government ordered a reduction in the volume of traffic around the country’s premier airport as a stop-gap measure.

    The administration of President Benigno Aquino has also pursued—with limited success—a policy of shifting traffic away from Manila and towards other growth centers, like Clark in Pampanga.

    Tony Tyler, director general and chief executive officer of the International Airport Transport Association, said recently that the Philippines is missing out on great economic opportunities that could otherwise be facilitated by air transport.

    He added that the country also has a bad reputation for safety, inadequate airport capacity and high taxation.

    In 2012, NAIA became the 34th busiest airport in the world, as passenger volume increased by about 8 percent to 32.1 million passengers.

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