Gatchalian doubts NAIA expansion plan

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 30 2018 01:36 AM

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Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday expressed doubts on the proposal to expand the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Gatchalian, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, told ANC that NAIA's main problem is overcapacity.

"Bottomline is, our airport is overcapacity already. All the four terminals can only handle 30 million passengers but in actuality, right now, they're already catering to 42 million passengers, which is almost 11.5 million over the designed capacity of the existing terminals," he said.

"On top of that, the runways can only handle 35 takeoffs and landing per hour, but right now it's already accepting 50 takeoffs and landing per hour," Gatchalian added.

According to Gatchalian, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said the department is planning to operate four different international airports.

"With the proposals that we heard this morning, Secretary Tugade mentioned that we are accepting...or the strategy is to operate four different international airports..the first one will commence in 2022 which is Clark," he said.

"But we have our doubts on that because operating four different international airports...meaning that passengers need to be shuttled in four different locations and airlines also need to schedule their flights in four different locations. So we still need to probe deeper into this proposal," Gatchalian added.

The Senate on Wednesday launched a legislative inquiry into the 2-day closure of a NAIA runway earlier this month, which left tens of thousands of travelers stranded.

Some 200 flights were cancelled while NAIA's main runway was blocked from August 16 to 18 after a Xiamen Airlines jetliner lost its left engine during a bumpy landing. Among those stranded by the incident were OFWs and holidaymakers traveling ahead of a long weekend.