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DOTr crafted airport strategy without input of airlines

PASAY CITY, Philippines – Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez (left) and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade appear at the Senate, 10 Sept 2018, for a hearing on the operations and management of the heavily-congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The government is crafting the Greater Metro Manila Airport Strategy, a four-airport system that will have a combined capacity of 247 million passengers. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

Senator Win Gatchalian scored the Department of Transportation (DOTr) after transportation officials admitted they did not consult airlines in making the Greater Metro Manila Airport Strategy, which seeks to develop three additional airports in the Greater Metro Manila area to solve the overcapacity problem of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

“Without consulting the airlines, how would this four-airport strategy become effective?” Gatchalian quizzed DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade during the continuation of the Senate Committee on Public Services inquiry into last month’s Xiamen Airlines runway excursion.

The lawmaker was referring to NAIA, Clark International Airport, and the proposed Bulacan and Sangley international airports.

“What the airlines want are more flights in one airport so that passengers will have the option to choose the time of the flight they want. You already have four airports so if PAL (Philippine Airlines) has four flights, what will happen is they will have one flight per airport,” he said.

Gatchalian requested the DOTr to submit to the Senate the department’s aviation roadmap and a detailed report on the Greater Metro Manila Airport Strategy, saying that these documents areĀ “the heart of the concern right now.”

Moreover, Gatchalian also chided DOTr for being unable to give a ready answer regarding the demand projections for air passengers for when the four airports are already operating simultaneously, noting the proposals for the development of a four-airport system were proponent-driven.

“Is it not important we determine the demand first? Because from what I can see right now, the strategy is proponent-driven, meaning what is being proposed by the proponents is what is being followed. But we cannot see what is best for the passengers,” he said.

“Of course the proponents will propose something that will maximize their profits, but what about the passengers?” he stressed.

The DOTr said once the development of the four airports is completed, they will have a combined capacity of 247 million passengers, with 65 million for NAIA, 12 million for Clark, 100 million for Bulacan, and 70 for Sangley.