By Daphne J. Magturo, Reporter

DoTC urges JICA study on new airport

Posted on March 28, 2016

A NEW $10-billion international airport is expected to be operational by 2026, the Transportation secretary said, adding that this will be located 20 minutes away from a central business district.

A passenger waits for his flight in the departure area at Manila’s international airport on Nov. 17, 2015. -- AFP
The Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) also wants the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to start the 18-month study on the planned airport before President Benigno S. C. Aquino III steps down from office on June 30.

“For the new Manila international airport, there should be a NEDA [National Economic and Development Authority] Board decision to convey to JICA to please start the full feasibility study [FS],” Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio A. Abaya said in a recent interview.

“The airport is being planned out now and will be operational within the next 10 or 15 years. This should be within a 20-kilometer radius from the business center,” Mr. Abaya said, without specifying the location.

Asked about the expected travel time from the business district to be selected, he replied: “From what I remember, 20 kilometers, 20 minutes. That’s not a hard and fast rule, but the framework is that it should be nearby.”

JICA’s pre-feasibility study identified two potential sites for the airport -- Sangley Point in Cavite and Laguna Lake.

Asked if the two locations fall within the projected 20-kilometer radius, Mr. Abaya said: “I think that’s the basic assumption if that’s what JICA will recommend.”

Initially, a two-runway airport will be built and will be expanded to house four runways depending on the sector’s “growth.”

The full FS has two phases. The first one will “compare” the two potential sites for the airport, and the second one will have an “in-depth” analysis on the chosen location.

Mr. Abaya also clarified the $10-billion construction cost is still a “very rough” estimate. “It’s the full FS that will fine-tune the number,” he said.

The DoTC has yet to decide on the procurement process for the airport, noting that “it might be too big for a PPP [public-private partnership]” project.

The new Manila airport is expected to solve congestion problems at the country’s main gateway, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Pasay City.

NAIA’s four terminals have a total capacity of 30 million passengers a year. However, the recent surge of tourist arrivals forced NAIA to exceed its cap, accommodating 17.69 million domestic and 15.18 million international passengers in 2013, the department DoTC said in Negotiation Bulletin No. 11-2015 last year.

Bringing in these passengers amounted to 237,050 commercial and 40,062 general aviation aircraft movements -- a total of 277,112 aircraft movements in 2013 alone -- already surpassing the 274,880 target for 2016 under the 2011-2016 Philippine Development Plan.