DOTC eyes Aquino nod on location of new airport in Sangley Point (Philippines Daily Inquirer)

THE DEPARTMENT of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is aiming to get the country’s main economic planning body to approve the location of a new international airport serving Metro Manila within the term of President Aquino, a senior government official said.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), which is preparing the feasibility study for the new air gateway, earlier identified the location as Sangley Point, Cavite.

In line with this, Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya told reporters last week that Jica has submitted to the DOTC an interim report on the location. He said the document was now being processed by the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).

Abaya reiterated that the final implementation of the airport project would be left to the next administration since the full Jica feasibility study would not be ready before April 2016, or months before President Aquino’s term ends.

Realistically, what you could expect is to get a Neda Board approval on a location, Abaya said.

An international airport in Sangley, which Jica estimated would cost P435.9 billion, was seen as the answer to increasing passenger congestion at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the Philippines’s busiest gateway.

Naia already handles more than 32 million passengers a year, or above its design capacity of 31 million passengers annually.

Earlier efforts to position Clark International Airport in Pampanga province as an alternative to Naia have been unsuccessful, given its distance from Metro Manila, which was why Jica chose Sangley as the ideal location.

According to the Jica study, Sangley International Airport would be able handle about 55 million passengers a year when it opens in 2025, which together with the existing Naia in Manila would be enough to meet the area’s estimated demand of 59.1 million passengers.

The Sangley facility could eventually be expanded to handle 130 million passengers annually by 2050, it added.

The International Air Transport Association (Iata) last May also presented a report urging the Philippines to build a new international airport for Metro Manila as it cited constraints in Naia.

Iata’s long term view of an infrastructure solution for the Metro Manila region is the development of a new greenfield airport with sufficient capacity to meet Manila’s aviation needs that is situated no greater than 50 kilometers from the city center, Iata said.

The DOTC secretary said that getting a clear direction on the new airport’s location was sufficient for now.

I think a lot of businessmen will appreciate that if there is a formal government decision where the next airport will be, then they could plan on how to adjust their operations, Abaya said. I think that is one thing we can do for the next administration.