Manila’s new airport project close to site decision

A formal decision on the site for the construction of a new international gateway into the Philippines’ capital city, Manila, is close, revealed Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya, Secretary, Philippine Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) during his keynote address at the Routes Asia Strategy Summit yesterday (March 6, 2016). However, it could be a couple of decades until the new facility becomes operational.

The DOTC recently dropped central Manila Bay as one of the possible locations for the new international airport due to objects from Philippine Ports Authority on how the reclaimed land will impact on shipping channels and anchorage. It is now considering converting a naval base at Sangley Point in Cavite and also, it is understood, a site at Laguna Lake, based on the recommendation of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The new facility is being developed to replace the current Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) which is already operating beyond its 31mppa capacity, although there remains the option to run both airports to meet future growth projections –passengers in the Greater Capital Region are predicted to exceed 100 million by 2040.

JICA has been commissioned by the Philippine government to explore the possible locations for the project and is due to complete its full feasibility study in the coming months. “We will soon be in a position to outline our intentions,” confirmed Abaya to Routesonline during the air service development forum.

The new airport will certainly be located within 20km from the city’s business centre and will initially have two runways, but eventually will be expand into an up to four runway operation, according to Abaya. It will be funded from government resources, although a number of options are under consideration for the future, including private management or even ownership.

Government elections in Philippines at the start of May mean it is likely that the final decision on the project will full under the administration of the new President. Incumbent President Benigno Aquino III is barred from seeking re-election, pursuant to the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

With the new facility at least 15 years away, work is currently taking place to maximise the efficiency of NAIA which last year handled 32 million passengers, more than its design capacity. “We are working with NATS from the UK to optimise runway capacity,” said Abaya.

Richard Maslen

Richard Maslen has travelled across the globe to report on developments in the aviation sector as airlines and airports have continued to evolve and…