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More airport dev’t needed after NAIA closure

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PHILSTAR

THE Department of Transportation (DoTr) said the disruption to air travel caused by the airport closure caused by the botched landing of a XiamenAir jet last week highlights the need to develop alternative gateways and upgrade systems at existing airports.

The department said in a statement on Tuesday that it is “aggressively pushing for the implementation of the DoTr aviation roadmap,” which calls for the improvement of current airports, the construction of new primary gateways such as Bulacan or Sangley, the development of provincial airports and upgrades to air traffic control and management systems.

The jet’s hard landing and off-runway excursion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) also brings up the need to review airline service arrangements with their passengers and coordination with the authorities in the event of emergencies, it said.

“[T]he Xiamen incident is an eye opener — a reminder for us to revisit the Air Passengers Bill of Rights (APBR), review the intervention protocols between the airlines and the airport authorities, recast our equipment inventory, enhance the training modules we do at the airport in cases of emergencies,” it added.

Late Thursday night, the Xiamen Airlines aircraft skidded off the tarmac on landing and shut down NAIA runway 06/24 until midday Saturday. Thousands of passengers were stranded at the airport due to multiple flight delays and cancellations after difficulties in extracting the aircraft.

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In an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Ed V. Monreal said the initial estimate of expenses directly incurred during the operation to hoist the XiamenAir aircraft were about P15 million.

“Right now, we have calculated cost of damages to be in the range of P15 million. It only covers the rental for the crane, manpower and use of our equipment. We still have a lot of things to consider,” he said.

The general manager said in a briefing on Monday XiamenAir will be asked to reimburse the cost.

The government is currently reviewing a 15-year unsolicited proposal from a consortium of seven conglomerates to expand NAIA’s capacity. The proposal is now with the National Economic and Development Authority’s Investment Coordination Committee (NEDA-ICC) for evaluation.

The consortium is composed of Aboitiz InfraCapital, Inc.; AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp.; Alliance Global Group, Inc.; Asia’s Emerging Dragon Corp.; Filinvest Development Corp.; JG Summit Holdings, Inc. and Metro Pacific Investments Corp.

The Clark International Airport is also being upgraded by concession holders Megawide Construction Corp. and GMR Infrastructure Ltd.

San Miguel Corp. (SMC) has also submitted a P735-billion unsolicited proposal to build Bulacan International Airport, which is still under review by the NEDA-ICC.

The Cavite government is meanwhile proposing a P552.018-billion Sangley International Airport, which has so far earned a no-objection clearance from the DoTr.

Aside from the four airports being considered as primary gateways, the government is also reviewing unsolicited proposals from Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp. (CLC), Aboitiz InfraCapital, Inc. and Mega7 Construction Corp. for regional airports in Davao, Bohol and Kalibo, respectively.

Transportation Undersecretary for Aviation Manuel Antonio L. Tamayo told reporters last month the DoTr is looking to issue its decision on whether to grant original proponent status for the regional airports by third quarter of the year. — Denise A. Valdez

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