Senator Win Gatchalian hopes that the short-term solutions airport authorities are working on to decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) would focus on “the simple things” that would have a big impact on airline performance and improve passenger convenience.
During the Senate Public Services Committee hearing on the Xiamen Air runway excursion incident at NAIA, Gatchalian showed a photo, which he said he took during one of his flights, of passengers boarding a Philippine Airlines plane from the ground despite the availability of a tube or jet bridge at one of the gates of NAIA Terminal 3.
“Based on the terminal access points, there are about 50 terminal access points in NAIA, and based on these access points, kaya naman po na sabay-sabay bumaba at umakyat sa mga eroplano. So ibig sabihin mas mabilis po ‘yong deplaning at mas mabilis po ‘yong boarding. Unfortunately, this is a normal occurrence na nakikita namin sa bagong terminal sa Terminal 3 na mayroong tube pero ‘di ginagamit. And as you can see here, there were senior citizens, pregnant women, parents holding children while boarding in the rain, but the tube was not used. And this contributes to the delay,” Gatchalian said.
He added that he approached the maintenance crew and was informed the tube was not being used because the spare parts for its repair had not yet arrived.
“Sana ‘yong mga short-term solutions natin, maaddress ‘yong mga ganitong simpleng bagay na napakalaking bagay para sa ating mga pasahero. These spare parts will improve the turn-around time, will improve passenger convenience, and it will improve on-time performance of the airline,” Gatchalian told Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Ed Monreal.
The lawmaker said based on his research and upon talking to aviation experts, the slow boarding and deplaning of passengers cause longer turn-around times for aircrafts, which in turn decrease the maximum events per hour (take-offs and landings per hour) on NAIA’s two intersecting runways.
“Secretary Tugade mentioned short-term solutions and we did our research. Itong intersecting runways, hindi po ito iba sa ibang bansa. In fact, sa Turkey sa Ataturk Airport, and sa [London] Heathrow, intersecting runways din po sila. But these airports can accept 60 to 65 events per hour or 60 to 65 takeoffs and landings per hour. Right now, the maximum at NAIA is only 50 events per hour. And one of the reasons na natuklasan namin at naririnig din namin ay ‘yong turn-around po ng aircrafts ay mabagal,” he said.
“My point is: focus on the simple things that can improve the number of takeoffs and landings of our current airports,” he stressed.
Moreover, Gatchalian said airlines are losing almost ₱4 billion a year due to their aircrafts being forced to go on holding patterns and circle NAIA as they are unable to land because of congestion.
“That ₱4 billion can be translated into ticket discounts if we can avoid these kinds of delays,” he said.