THE GOVERNMENT will inaugurate Sangley Airport in Cavite on Feb. 15, positioning it as the main hub for general aviation to decongest Metro Manila’s main gateway.

In his speech at the conference on the Institutionalized Leveraging of Infrastructure Program for Airport Development (iLIPAD) held in New Clark City Wednesday, Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade said that the “formal inauguration” of the Sangley Airport will be on Feb. 15, with President Rodrigo R. Duterte in attendance.

Mr. Duterte ordered last year the immediate use of the facility for general aviation to reserve Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for larger commercial aircraft.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, an average of 3,000 general aviation flights depart NAIA every month. The DoTr has been developing Sangley to accommodate such flights.

General aviation includes charter, corporate, military and pilot training flights typically using lighter aircraft.

The field at Sangley operated as Danilo Atienza Air Base. Its location on Sangley Point, a peninsula which has been a naval facility since Spanish times, means it is surrounded by navigable waters which will require extensive reclamation if it is to be expanded, making it expensive to redevelop as a bigger hub.

Department of Transportation (DoTr) officials said in October that the new airport will have “turbo-prop as the maximum aircraft that will operate in Sangley.”

The airport’s runway will serve as the “third runway” of Ninoy Aquino International Airport with a maximum capacity of 20 movements per hour, referring to both landings and take-offs, the DoTr said. — Arjay L. Balinbin