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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Modernized Sangley Airport Maybe NAIA's Third Runway


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Proposing Sangley Point in Cavite as the site for a new international gateway, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has also recommended to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) that this new airport operate under an integrated airspace with the same air traffic control tower as the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) until 2025.

“JICA’s recommendation means that, in effect, the new Sangley airport will be NAIA’s ‘third runway’ until greater expansion can be made in the long-term. Meanwhile, upgrading Sangley’s existing airport may be done faster and at a lower cost, since initial reclamation will be needed for only one to two runways, instead of three to four. This will significantly bring down JICA’s initial ballpark estimate of $ 10 Billion to build a 4-runway airport in Sangley,” noted DOTC Secretary Jun Abaya.

The decision on whether NAIA should be closed down eventually may be made later on, based on the evolution of this common-airspace strategy. The options for 2025 and beyond would be to close NAIA once Sangley is expanded into a 4-runway airport, or to retain this dual-airport system and possibly develop Sangley into a 2- to 3- runway airport.

For now, the DOTC and JICA are exploring options for the preparation of a feasibility study on this roadmap, which comes after the Japanese agency identified eight (8) potential sites in 2011 and then rated their suitability. The 8 sites originally considered were: Angat-Pandi-Bustos; Obando; North Manila Bay; Central Manila Bay; Sangley Point; San Nicholas Shoals; West Laguna Lake; and Rizal-Talim Island. JICA then ranked each site based on criteria such as catchment area, navigation risk, natural hazard risk, and accessibility.

Last month, JICA presented the results of its analysis to Abaya and Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Jose Angel Honrado, which showed that Sangley Point ranked first, followed by West Laguna Lake at second, and Central Manila Bay at third. The transport agency’s next step is to prepare a feasibility study for the Sangley proposal, for completion in 2015.

Abaya clarifies that the DOTC will still have to finalize its over-all airport strategy and present the same to President Benigno S. Aquino III. In the meantime, the transportation department is still open to other proposals, such as the recently-reported plans of the San Miguel Corporation (SMC) group.

“We are pursuing JICA’s recommendations since its study has been officially authorized by the DOTC for several years. However, we are still open to other proposals such as SMC’s, but they will have to be submitted to us. Until now, we are getting most of our information on the SMC proposal from news reports and business groups with whom the plans have been shared,” Abaya said.

“In the meantime, we will continue upgrading NAIA and encouraging the rapid growth of Clark International Airport, which we still see developing into a major international gateway in the long-term, alongside our plans for NAIA and Sangley,” he added.

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