Friday, March 4, 2011

Manila airport to drop general aviation

Asia Guide Tours And Travels


The Philippine authorities are looking at moving general aviation out of Manila's Ninoy Aquino International airport in two years' time, in an effort to create space on the airport's congested runways.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) plans to transfer general aviation to other national airports outside Manila, says a senior source in the CAAP.
"Our director-general has already met with the airport, and has decided that this will happen in two years," he adds.
Manila's airport, which has three terminals and two runways, will continue to serve general aviation for the time being, says the source.
Airlines in the South-East Asian country have previously called for the airport to ban general and business aircraft from operating on its runways to help ease congestion.
Philippine low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific says it had to delay almost 6,800 flights in 2010 as a result of air traffic issues in Manila. The hold-ups totalled about 633h.
Air traffic congestion in Ninoy Aquino International can cause delays "from 4min to 81min per flight", says Cebu Pacific's vice-president for flight operations Victor Custodio.
"International airports such as Singapore do not have pilot schools or general aviation operating out of their country's premiere gateways. We see the CAAP's efforts to lessen air traffic in Manila as a very positive move that can only gain positive results for all passengers.

2. CEB supports CAAP's move to decongest NAIA

“Air traffic congestion (ATC) in NAIA can cause delays from 4 minutes to 81 minutes per flight. An aircraft assigned for a roster of flights experiencing delays due to ATC can end up with a domino effect of delays, to the disadvantage of the passenger,” said CEB VP for flight operations Capt. Victor Custodio.

“International airports such as Singapore do not have pilot schools or general aviation operating out of their country’s premiere gateways. We see CAAP’s efforts to lessen air traffic in Manila as a very positive move that can only gain positive results for all passengers,” Custodio added.

In 2010 alone, CEB recorded almost 6,800 minor and major delayed flights caused by air traffic in Manila. The accumulated delay caused by ATCs last year was approximately 38,000 minutes or 633 hours.

“Despite this, we are happy to note that we ended the year with an 88% on-time performance. This was largely because of the team effort we at Cebu Pacific have exerted to bring our passengers to their destinations on time,” Custodio said.

CAAP Director General Ramon Gutierrez said that NAIA runways were already congested with regular flights.

3. Open skies not possible
An option was to allow provincial airports to house aviation schools, a move which could also augment the provincial airports’ revenues.

This can free up runway capacity at Ninoy Aquino International Airport, and lessen air traffic congestion.

Cebu Pacific currently operates over 260 flights daily to 16 international destinations and 33 domestic destinations. It flew almost 10.5 million passengers in 2010, exceeding targets with a 19% increase over 2009. Its international passengers also grew by 38% in 2010.

On top of that, he said, "we do not have enough check pilots" who examine on a per flight basis the physical and mental condition of the pilots and the airworthiness of the aircraft they fly.

He said the Philippines needs about 130 such check pilots. "We have only 50," Arcilla said.

The principal reason is salary. Arcilla said check pilots, who have extensive flying experience and familiarity with nearly all kinds of aircraft, are paid only about P25,000 a month. They get 50 percent more when they fly.

This is about the salary of flight attendants and stewardesses flying the Pacific route of Philippine Airlines.

He said taxes on international airlines flying to the Philippines are much bigger than in other countries. The common carrier tax in the Philippines is 3 percent. A "gross Philippine billing" equivalent to 2.5 percent is also imposed.

On top of all that, airlines pay the overtime services of government employees such as immigration, customs and quarantine officials.

The NAIA has a total area of 850 hectares, rather small for international air-transport operations. The airport has only one main runway, with an alternate.

The former Clark Air Base has a total area of 2,500 hectares with three runways fit for the big birds, according to Arcilla.

Glicerio V. Sicat, undersecretary for aviation of the Department of Transportation, chimed in and said the Japan International Cooperation Agency gave the Philippines a grant of P12 billion more than three years ago. The money is intended for computerization, navigation and surveillance. The contract was signed in June last year and so far only the technical studies, which are 43 percent of the loan, have been completed.

He said the Ninoy Aquino International Airport had been under Category 1 for about 25 years until January 2008 when the US Federal Aviation Authority had it downgraded.

In April 2010, the European Union banned all Philippine carriers from flying its routes also because of safety concerns.

Neha Jain

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