By Butch Fernandez, August 20 2018; Business Mirror


Image Credit to CNN Philippines

THE latest runway mishap at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) that canceled dozens of flights and stranded thousands of passengers has sparked fresh calls to rush an alternate airport outside Metro Manila, even as senators want a full inquiry on the matter.

House Transportation Committee Chairman Cesar V. Sarmiento of Catanduanes on Sunday said mounting another major airport will help mitigate the impact of any crisis happening at the Naia, and reduce heavy traffic in Metro Manila.

“My personal take on that is this: Even if we increase the capacity of the Naia, we will still encounter the same problem. Not necessarily on capacity but going in and out of Naia. So the most practical idea is to move out. Create another airport which will bring convenience and comfort and avoid traffic in Metro Manila,” he said in a radio interview.

Sen. Grace Poe, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Services, is seeking an explanation from airport authorities on the runway mishap.

Poe is filing a resolution on Monday, August 20, to direct her panel to inquire into the operational procedures in responding to such emergency situations. She said it is important to know why it took about 36 hours to remove a Chinese passenger aircraft from the Naia’s main runway 06-24.

“What is, or is there even, a standard operating procedure for accidents like this? This is not the first time that a plane has skidded off the runway and it certainly won’t be the last. Why did it take two days to restart operations at the Naia? Can’t this be done faster to ease the misery of thousands of passengers?”
Poe asked.

The Xiamen Airlines flight veered off while landing amid a heavy downpour on Thursday evening, shortly before midnight.

“We will give time for airport authorities to have a complete report on the effects of the runway closure during and after the
incident,” Poe added.

Transport Secretary Arthur P.  Tugade, Manila International Airport Authority (Miaa) General Manager Ed V. Monreal, airline executives, as well as some affected passengers, will be invited to the hearing, Poe said.

The hearing will also tackle Senate Resolution 782 filed by Sen. Sherwin T. Gatchalian on the status of Metro Manila airports and the government’s plans, if any, on modernizing them to meet growing demand.

Poe said she also wants to know the status of the P350-billion plan of a private consortium composed of seven conglomerates to rehabilitate and upgrade the Naia submitted to the government
in March.

For the House Transportation Committee chief Rep. Sarmiento, finding a spot to build an ideal airport will not be a problem because building it outside the Metro is a possibility, citing Incheon Airport in South Korea as an example.

He noted the capacity of the Naia a few years ago was 31 million passengers. “Then, two years ago or last year, it’s already 42 million. Next year it will be 47 million. In short the capacity of Naia is evidently crowded,” he said.

Aviation issues

Sarmiento added it is wise to talk right away about plans to resolve other issues on aviation transportation. “In the recent happenings, it is imperative to have a hearing. We really have to find out how we can help in terms of legislation to avoid these incidents,” he said.

He urged the Miaa to take countermeasures to avoid similar incidents from escalating into
a crisis.

“This time, Miaa should buy lifting cranes. It is quite expensive, but we have to consider the consquences of these events. So I think Miaa should seriously consider procuring a lifting crane or lifter to easily remove the obstacles on the runway,” he said.

Sarmiento also said some airports other than the Naia are included the President Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” program, yet the program itself will still be a long stretch to implement.

“Because of what happened, it is imperative they have to move heaven and earth to implement this in soonest possible time. You know, accidents happen. We do not foresee accidents to happen. But of course, later this may still happen again. So we should avoid this from happening again,” he said.

With a report by Mark Joseph B. Fernandez