Aviation authorities: PH needs new and better airports

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 5) — Aviation authorities on Wednesday told lawmakers the country needs new airports to avoid a repeat of the Xiamen Air mishap that left thousands of passengers stranded at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and other terminals nationwide.

Airport authorities during the hearing of the House Committee on Transportation said they can only do so much at the NAIA, which has a perpendicular runway design, so they are looking at alternatives to the country's main gateway.

They said there is a need to build a new airport with at least two parallel runways.

Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Ed Monreal said they could not totally address the congestion without at least two parallel runways, but nevertheless "the show will go on."

Transportation undersecretary Manuel Antonio Tamayo agreed with Monreal that there is a need for a new international airport.

He said NAIA is too congested and there's nothing more that they can do to expand the airport.

This is the reason, he said, why they are entertaining proposals for the construction of a new airport in Bulacan, to open an airport in Sangley, Cavite, and to further develop the Clark International Airport in Pampanga.

"We will expedite the airport projects so that we can more or less have a better gateway without limitations as far as runways are concerned or obstructions are concerned or connectivity is concerned for passengers," Tamayo said.

But he admitted funding is another issue. The official said of the 53 airport projects the DOTr proposed for 2019, the budget department only approved five.

House Deputy Speaker Prospero Pichay Jr. said Clark International Airport can afford another runway to accommodate more flights and help decongest NAIA.

But Tamayo said they proposed the construction of another terminal in Clark in their 2019 budget and there are no funds for another runway.

"Right now Clark kasi is still underutilized for this year. We are projecting about 2.5 million passengers and with the new terminal, they have the capacity of 12 million passengers," Tamayo said.

Pichay said Clark should have another runway, which is why he will propose in plenary to realign P2.5 billion in the transportation budget to fund the new Clark runway.