Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) Congressman Win Gatchalian is urging concerned government agencies to improve first the country’s aviation infrastructures such as additional runways instead of building new passenger terminals at the already crowded Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
Gatchalian was reacting to media reports that the government is mulling the construction of new terminals to accommodate 50 million passengers yearly since NAIA’s four passenger terminals were designed to have a capacity of 31 million passengers every year.
Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) deputy director general Rodante Joya had said NAIA was already nearing its “saturation point” as the current passenger load is only about 33 million passengers yearly.
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The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has also tapped British firm NATS in a 12-month contract worth P66 million to boost hourly air traffic movement from the present 40 to 60 by “determining the optimal configuration for the airport’s intersecting runways.”
“Although the DOTC’s move to consult NATS in order to increase air traffic movement without improving the aviation infrastructure is laudable, the wiser move for the government is to expand aviation infrastructure– if it is really serious in implementing crucial reforms in our very much neglected and underinvested public infrastructure,” said Gatchalian, a senior vice chair of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development.
Gatchalian said that upgrading the airport by adding more runways would not only allow NAIA to accommodate more air traffic movements but also allow speedier movement of people and goods, and thus increase the competitiveness of the economy.
“Building more terminals to increase passenger capacity will not provide a permanent solution to air traffic congestion; it will only increase the number of angry passengers waiting for their already delayed flights,” Gatchalian pointed out.
The Valenzuela City lawmaker cited persistent media reports of flight delays averaging 150-200 a day, wasting some P7 billion worth of fuel annually.
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“Top government officials of concerned agencies should have the foresight to see the merits in actually investing in upgrading infrastructure as the economy grows,” said Gatchalian.
Gatchalian recalled the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2014-2015 which stated: “The country is one of the best digitally connected developing Asian nations, close behind Malaysia (60th) and Thailand (65th). The same cannot be said of infrastructure, however, which remains poor (91st), especially with respect to airport (108th) and seaport (101st) infrastructure.”
Infrastructure in the country barely improved in the latest Global Competitiveness report as it only moved one notch (90th) out of 140.
The legislator also moved for the construction of a monorail connected with NAIA terminals to not only ease vehicle traffic around the airport but also to make traveling to and from the airport of passengers faster and more convenient.
“The number of private vehicles going to and from the airport actually worsens road congestion around the airport,” said Gatchalian. “A monorail connected to the airport provides passengers an alternative better than private transportation.”
Gatchalian suggested that the government look at monorails built in other countries like Japan’s Tokyo Monorail and Osaka Monorail, New Jersey’s AirTrain Newark, and Germany’s SkyTrain. (Monica Cantilero)