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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, February 17, 2017
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Air transport woes

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A policy brief on air transport infrastructure unveiled by business groups and the Joint Foreign Chambers identified congestion and institutional environment as the two biggest constraints in the country’s air transport growth and urged the government to take immediate action to resolve the country’s air transport woes.

The brief stressed the poor state of the country’s air transport infrastructure, citing results from the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness report 2016-2017 released last year wherein the Philippines ranked 5th out of nine ASEAN economies in terms of air connectivity and received lower rankings in terms of quality of overall infrastructure and quality of air transport infrastructure compared with the results in the previous year’s report. The score the country received for the quality of its air transport infrastructure in the WEF report was the lowest among ASEAN economies.

“The poor state of infrastructure – airports, air traffic management, and institutions – has hindered the ability of the country’s hard and soft players to capitalize on growth opportunities and most importantly of consumers to enjoy safe, seamless and secure travel,” the policy brief said.

“In the case of the Philippines, there is a need to provide greater coherence and convergence among entities undertaking airport development and their implementation and to separate regulatory developmental functions which are currently in singular entities. The first imperative affects adequacy of infrastructure, the second is paramount for safety,” it added.

Those of us who often fly to the nation’s capital for either pleasure or business know the difficulties and inconveniences that the congestion causes. The delays that cost thousands of hours and millions of pesos cannot be allowed to continue and the government needs to take immediate steps, with or without emergency powers, to solve this problem that has been hounding our nation for what feels like decades.

As far as the country’s main airport is concerned, numerous solutions, proposals and offers have already been discussed and yet the government, both the overly-cautious predecessor and the supposedly more decisive and gung-ho incumbent, still cannot agree on a plan.

What are the men and women responsible for finding a final solution to our country’s air transport woes doing? Have they scrapped all previous studies and solutions and gone back to the drawing board? Are they waiting for emergency powers or a savior from the private sector? Can we count on any plans to be finalized and implemented in the next 6 years?*


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