Airline Execs Support Plan To Use Sangley Airport

Executives from Philippine Airlines (PAL), Cebu Pacific (CEB) and AirAsia Philippines on Tuesday told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) they support the government plan to use the Sangley airport 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 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 (NAIA). 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.

The executive 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 (MIAA) 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.

“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 ft. “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.

For CEB’s part, spokesperson Charo Lagamon said the management will continue to cooperate with the government on other measures that will make the passenger experience better.

“We support efforts to improve NAIA, and will work with the government to achieve this. Transferring general aviation or private aircraft movements to Sangley will yield immediate positive results for NAIA,” CEB told the PNA.

President Rodrigo Duterte made a surprise inspection at NAIA Terminal 2 early Monday morning after hearing reports about flight delays and cancellations.

In the Cabinet Meeting on Monday night, Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said President Duterte “expressed dismay” and hinted a revamp at NAIA.

The President reportedly directed the operations in Sangley Point to start immediately. (PNA)

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