700 flights to be affected by Tagaytay radar repair

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Hundreds of flights in Metro Manila will be affected by the week-long maintenance upgrade of the air traffic radar in Tagaytay, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) announced on Thursday.

"Because of the effect of [the upgrade], reduction from 40 to 32 [flights per hour] will have approximately 700 flights affected for this whole week while the radar is undergoing maintenance," CAAP Deputy Director General Manuel Antonio Tamayo told CNN Philippines' The Source.

CAAP announced on Monday its move to put the radar under preventive maintenance from March 6 to 11.

This will primarily affect flights in and out of Manila International Airport terminals and Clark International Airport, which are close to Tagaytay.

Airports in Manila are only limited to 40 movements per hour, translating to 20 arrivals and 20 departures.

Due to the maintenance, only 32 aircraft movements an hour can be accommodated.

The airlines selected the date of maintenance due to low passenger loads for that week, Tamayo explained, adding the agency was closely coordinating with both local and foreign carriers.

"We told them to retime their flights...combine the flights, and if not... cancel the flights which are not productive," said Tamayo. "By today the flights will be finalized and it will be announced to the public by tomorrow...by the airlines themselves."

New air traffic management

The upgrade is part of the installation of a new "world-class air traffic control system," according to a tweet by the Department of Transportation.

The new system is called the Communication Navigation Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM), which will be "state of the art, computer-based, [and] satellite-based," said Tamayo.

The radar in Tagaytay that will undergo repair is one of three that are operational in the Philippines. The other radars are located in Laoag, Ilocos Norte, and Cebu.

According to Tamayo, 10 new air traffic radars will be installed from Laoag, Tuguegarao, all the way to Zamboanga and Davao under the CNS/ATM.

"So we'll have a total of 13 for the whole country. We will be able to monitor 80 percent of the traffic flying over the Philippine [Flight Information Region]," said Tamayo.

"Air traffic control will be more efficient, definitely safer, and an advantage for us. Since we are able to monitor all the traffic that comes in and out of the country, [there will be] additional revenue for CAAP and the Philippines," he added.

He noted they might be able to charge foreign carriers a premium now because the system is expected to be more efficient.

Tamayo said the system will be turned over to CAAP toward the end of June to early July.

It is expected to be fully operational in the last quarter of 2017.

New airport

Building new airports is also among the possible government solutions for air traffic.

The possible partners for a new project include San Miguel Corp., which had submitted to CAAP a complete proposal for a new airport in Bulacan, Bulacan.

"That is our dream - to have a new airport," said Tamayo. "Well, it depends upon the decision of the government [but] we would like to sort of transfer the operations... to a new gateway where you don't have any restrictions."

He said a new airport will have less trouble with issues on safety, high-rise buildings, and GPS interference caused by cell sites.

They are also working to improve their on-time performance, which has risen to "between 70 to 80 percent" according to stakeholders, Tamayo added.

"I doubt if there are any airports having a hundred percent [on-time performance]," said Tamayo. "But we'll do our best to still improve. We'll not settle for 80 [percent]."