Expansion best solution to decongest NAIA : Poe

MANILA Senator Grace Poe said Thursday expanding the capacity of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) is the best solution to decongest the country's main gateway, noting that congestion would still exist even if the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) implements its rationalization plan.

In her report to Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and members of the Senate Committee on Public Services, Poe said MIAA should first take time to assess pending proposals of interested parties to expand NAIA.

She noted that the proposals "offer promising remedies, which not only resolve current issues but also provide for the exponential growth of the aviation industry, as well as the national economy.

Poe cited the bids to improve NAIA's services, such as the PHP350-billion unsolicited proposal of a group consisting of the country's largest conglomerates dubbed as "super consortium"; and the USD3-billion (PHP156.2-billion) bid of Megawide Construction Corp. and its India-based partner GMR Infrastructure Ltd. that promises to transform the airport into a world-class regional aviation hub.

Megawide-GMR is the joint venture behind the construction of a new Cebu International Airport terminal.

"This expansion of NAIA may more likely resolve existing constraints similar to the upgrading of terminals in Cebu. Contrasting these ventures with the intended terminal rationalization reveals that the planned redistribution of domestic and international flights may only be a band-aid solution to the continuing problems in NAIA," Poe said.

Under MIAA's rationalization plan, Terminals 1 and 3 will be exclusive for international flights while Terminals 2 and 4 will be for domestic flights. Airlines were told to comply within six months.

Poe, however, pointed out that this would not solve terminal congestion as Terminal 2 has a capacity of only nine million passengers as against the combined number of domestic passengers of more than 16 million.

Relocating flights from one terminal to another will not ease airport congestion and may further exacerbate problems hounding the country's main gateway, she said.

She noted that the six-month deadline for airlines to comply with the airport rationalization plan may be arbitrary, and the rationalization plan's implementation done without conducting a detailed study on whether this would be the soundest approach to the current situation in NAIA.

Poe urged MIAA to review its rationalization plan "with the view in mind of not prejudicing the interests of Filipino passengers".

"The Committee is giving time for the MIAA to consult with various stakeholders in the industry to solve the congestion problem in NAIA and to serve the public with utmost attention. By then, a full committee report will be issued for the purpose," Poe said.

Source: Philippine News Agency