Manila is pushing hard for the development of the proposed Sangley airport in a bid to reduce congestion at the city's Ninoy Aquino International airport (NAIA).

At a 10 June cabinet meeting president Rodrigo Duterte ordered the country's Department of Transportation to develop a plan to move general aviation and select domestic flights from NAIA to Sangley by November.

Sangley, which is around 36km southwest of Manila and is home to the Danilo Atienza air base, is finally being developed into a civil airport after years of plans that failed to progress.

The transport department says construction work at Sangley airport began last year, and is now almost half-way completed. An asphalt overlay of the runway was completed in February, while construction continues on the passenger terminal and aircraft hangars.

Philippine carriers have agreed to use Sangley for turboprop passenger and cargo operations, while general aviation operators will be able to use it or Clark International airport.

Cebu Pacific Air has committed to basing its ATR 72 freighters from Sangley.

"The transfer of general aviation — or private aircraft operations to Sangley — is a quick win and will yield immediate positive results for NAIA," says Cebu Pacific's chief operations officer Michael Ivan Shau. "As an initial step, we have committed to establish our turboprop cargo operations at Sangley."

Transportation secretary Arthur Tugade says the move to reduce congestion at NAIA will free up space at the airport's four terminals, and to allow improvements and additions to be made.

Duterte's push to develop airports outside of Manila comes as NAIA recorded a 2% rise in passenger numbers between 2015 and 2018. Last year, it handled 45 million passengers, driven in part by an increase in the number of hourly slots from 36 to 44 in the past two years.

Source: Cirium Dashboard