Philippines to reduce congestion at Manila's Ninoy Aquino airport

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The Philippines' department of transportation and communication (DOTC) will be implementing several short- and long-term measures to tackle runway congestion at Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

To boost the airport's flight handling capacity, it will speed up the construction of two rapid taxiways, each estimated to cost Ps300 million ($7.1 million), for expected completion early next year.

This will allow NAIA to handle 45 aircraft movements per hour, up from 36.

Arrivals and departures of commercial flights will also be grouped together to improve runway usage, translating to an additional two to four movements per hour.

The airport will also restrict take-offs and landings to those operated by pilots-in-command, to ensure that flights are within 100 seconds per movement.

DOTC also plans to transfer some commercial flights to airports with night landing capabilities such as Cebu, Davao, Kalibo, Laoag and Zamboanga.

Local carriers have also agreed to conduct a study to adjust their schedule and transfer flights to airports with night landing capabilities. This move, however, is expected to take time, says transportation secretary Mar Roxas.

DOTC also intends to spend an estimated Ps800 million to equip 14 airports with night landing facilities. Changes to take-off and landing fees have also been mooted to encourage more flights to be operated at night.

The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) is also in discussions with the country's defence ministry to transfer its 82 daily general aviation flights to Sangley Point. Tourism flights, meanwhile, will also be restricted to one cycle per company within the peak period, a move that is expected to reduce five to seven daily flights at NAIA, adds DOTC.

Statistics gathered by DOTC show that the country's air fleet population has almost doubled to 119 aircraft, up from 62 in 2008. The country transported 30 million passengers in 2011, up by 67% from 2006, while aircraft movements at NAIA rose to 255,000 in 2011, up by 49% from 2006.