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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, June 12, 2019
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Airlines support plan to use
Sangley airport for domestic flights


MANILA - Executives from the Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and AirAsia Philippines yesterday said they support the government plan to use the Sangley airport in Cavite for general aviation and domestic flights.

“We are very happy that the government (will) develop Sangley for our domestic flights," PAL president and chief operating officer Jaime Bautista said, adding that his team would meet with Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade this week for brainstorming to fast-track airline operations in Sangley.

PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna remarked that the carrier lauds the government’s effort to decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. This, she said, is a step in the right direction, as it will benefit the country’s commercial aviation sector as a whole.

AirAsia Philippines chief executive officer Dexter Comendador told the PNA that moving all general aviation and domestic airlines (turboprop operations) to Sangley can mitigate the congestion at NAIA.

He, however, noted the need to provide for a fast, reliable and efficient ground or water transport between NAIA and Sangley.

He added that the move would make international and domestic jet operations in NAIA gain additional slots.

“But then again, CAAP (Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines) and MIAA (Manila International Airport Authority) should maximize available technology to ensure fast and on-time aircraft movement, as well as the efficient use of space in parking bays, ramps, taxiways and runways," he emphasized.

Comendador, who is also a pilot, commented that Sangley Air Base is only good for daytime operations in Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC).

In aviation, VMC is a category in which visual flight rules (VFR) flight is permitted -- that is, conditions in which pilots have sufficient visibility to fly the aircraft maintaining visual separation from terrain and other aircraft.

The runway in Sangley, he said, lacks the necessary lights for sustained safe commercial airline operations. The Sangley Airbase or the Danilo Atienza Air Base used to be a US naval station base until it was turned over to the Philippine Navy and Air Force in 1971.

“Because of the lack of runway lighting conditions and navigation facility, I suggest that only turboprop operations be transferred because (turboprops) can fly lower and slower than jets, and jets from NAIA will need to stay at a higher altitude," Comendador added.

He said there must be parallel airport operations. "Otherwise, there is no point to transfer commercial flights to Sangley if both airports can only operate alternately in the approach and departure area."

Comendador also pointed out that Sangley airport has no terminals or facilities to handle the volume of domestic passengers.

Furthermore, Sangley airport’s runway elevation, according to him, is only 8 feet. "At high tide, the northern end (of Cavite) gets flooded. The more it would easily get flooded during rainy season, thereby cancelling flights," he explained.

President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday ordered the transfer of domestic flights from NAIA to Sangley Air Base to ease airport congestion.

“The President directed the operations in Sangley Point to start immediately,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo said the suggestion to transfer domestic flights to Sangley Airbase was presented by Tugade during Monday night’s Cabinet meeting.

In a Palace briefing, Panelo said Duterte wants the Sangley Airbase to accommodate domestic flights by November.

He said this is a month earlier than Tugade’s target to transfer the domestic flights.

Panelo said Tugade had already initiated the testing of ferries that can operate from the Mall of Asia (MOA) in Pasay City to Sangley within 18 to 24 minutes.

He said Duterte wanted airport security to be handled by a single entity, either from the military or civilian force to ensure passengers’ safety.

Tugade will draft an executive order for the President's consideration, Panelo said.

Duterte ordered the transfer of domestic flights to Sangley Airbase after making a surprise inspection at the NAIA Terminal 2 early Monday morning where he was dismayed over flight cancellations and delays.

He asked Tugade’s agency to solve the problem in the long term and promised passengers the government will come up with a remedy “within a month.”*PNA


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