By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

THE Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said it turned over to the national government its highest dividend in history in 2018, as it increased its net income after the installation of a Communications, Navigation, Surveillance / Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) system last year.

In a statement Tuesday, the airport regulator said it remitted P3.5 billion in dividends to the national government in 2018, 8% higher than the P3.2 billion dividends it remitted in 2017.

CAAP said its dividend payable for 2018 was supposed to be P958.6 million, but it “reported an excess cash of P2.55 billion, and deemed it appropriate to increase the dividend payment to P3.5 billion while still maintaining its economic viability.”

In a phone interview with BusinessWorld, CAAP Spokesperson Eric B. Apolonio said the higher remittance is largely due to an increase in fees and charges that the agency collected after installing a CNS/ATM system in January last year.

He said the CNS/ATM system allowed the CAAP to monitor all aircraft movement in Philippine airspace, therefore letting it charge airlines that fly over the country but do not necessarily land on Philippine grounds.

Mag-i-increase talaga ’yung excess cash natin dahil ’yung overfly, nade-detect na ngayon lahat. May billing and charges ’yan lahat. Dumaan ka lang sa airspace ng Philippines, you have to be billed [Our excess cash increased because we can now detect overflies. There’s billing and charges for all of those. Just pass through the airspace of the Philippines, you have to be billed],” Mr. Apolonio said.

The CNS/ATM system aims to help reduce congestion in the country’s airspace and improve air traffic management safety.

Mr. Apolonio also noted CAAP also collected higher fees and charges last year such as filing fees, parking fees, and those related to aircraft touchdown and takeoff.

Diba ’yung air travel nag-increase. It goes without saying na ’yung airport fees, ’yung travel terminal fees, (tataas dahil) magbabayad lahat ng pasahero [Since air travel increased, it goes without saying that airport fees, travel terminal fees also rise because all passengers pay],” he said.

Total passenger traffic in 2018 grew 10% to 54.14 million from 49.18 million the year prior.

“The flying public can be assured that while we remain keen on making our airspace safe, we shall continue to be honest and judicious in our fiscal functions,” CAAP Director General Jim C. Sydiongco said.