Aquino: 'I'm the most convenient excuse' for flight delays
MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III quipped in a CEO forum hosted by the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines (SEIPI) on Friday, October 23, that he is the "most convenient excuse" why flights are delayed in the country's main gateway.
Asked by one of the SEIPI members on what the government is doing to address the flight delays and congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and if his administration is considering other alternatives to address the issues, the President said that he was told the supposed reason of all the delays.
"It is announced on the planes that I'm either landing or taking off. I’m the most convenient excuse because nobody can ask me if that really happened. But the records are present," Aquino said.
The President said that when he goes around the country or leaves for an overseas trip, they are already managing a maximum of 15 minutes "from the time I enter the plane and the door is closed to our leaving the area. It is no longer the one-hour requirement that existed previously and we strive to make that even less."
Aquino said that at times, "we’ve managed 10 minutes and below. We want to disrupt as little as possible."
NAIA is no longer one of the world’s worst airports, attributed to the ongoing rehabilitation efforts in Terminal 1 and upgrades in Terminal 3, according to a survey conducted by The Guide to Sleeping in Airports.
NAIA, the country’s main international gateway, was named the world’s worst airport from 2011 to 2013. In 2014, NAIA improved its ranking in the world’s worst airports, down to the 4th spot after leading the list for 3 consecutive years.
The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the Manila International Airport Authority's (MIAA) next focus is to decongest the NAIA runway.
In August, DOTC announced that it tapped air traffic management expert NATS Services Limited, which will submit its recommendations on NAIA’s current airspace, runway and terminal capacity, air traffic and surface operations, runway access points, and Air Traffic Controllers’ (ATC) training within the next 6 months. (READ: NAIA no longer among the world's worst airports – poll)
Alternatives to NAIA
Aquino acknowledged that there are ongoing studies on whether to relocate NAIA. He said, "Clark now is envisioned to service basically both the Central and Northern Luzon markets and [as an] attempt to decongest NAIA a bit." (READ: Hate flight delays, cancellations? Take Clark International Airport)
In July last year, Sangley Point in Cavite was reported to being considered as a new airport to cater to Metro Manila and surrounding provinces. The proposed new airport in Sangley Point, Cavite, could use the same air traffic control tower as NAIA until it can be completely developed, suggested by the Japan International Cooperation Agency to DOTC.
San Miguel Corporation also expressed interest to put up a terminal and runway in NAIA. (READ: San Miguel to propose runway, terminal in NAIA)
Aquino said the traffic and congestion problems at NAIA could also be symptoms of the tourism market's growth.
"And of course, our airlines are also coping up with the very increased demand. The longer haul planes are indicative of their exponential growth, which adds to the congestion," he said.
But as a warning, Aquino told the SEIPI members, "So I’m already announcing that we're not the cause of the delay next month when I go to Malaysia for the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Summit." – Lynda C. Corpuz/Rappler.com