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Planned 3rd Naia runway junked; new terminal eyed.

MANILA -- The construction of a third runway at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport is now a remote possibility after an airport expert hired by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) advised against it.

The DOTC is instead shifting its attention to the proposal to construct a new terminal which will be accessible to major roads such as C5 Road and South Luzon Expressway.

"According to our initial briefing with the consultant we hired, we might not achieve the desired results given the investment and the disturbances that the parallel runway will create," Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya told reporters at the Naia.

DOTC hired Dutch consultant Ruud Ummels, who is also part of a group tapped to study the government's runway optimization program, to provide a quick assessment on the third runway project.

In September, the DOTC and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines announced that President Aquino had given the green light to the new runway at the Naia.

The proposed 2,100meter runway was meant to augment the two Manila runways servicing domestic and international flights and allow airlines to expand operations based on the travelers' demand.

But before the project gets underway, the government has to expropriate private lands occupied by 140 households in ParaAaque City.

Abaya said that Ummels told him during a recent meeting that the third runway would still disturb operations of the main runway.

"Putting a runway that will cross over will affect the main runway," Abaya said.

The DOTC chief said, however, that Ummels has yet to give the final details on the viable option to address air traffic congestion in a report which he would likewise submit to President Aquino.

"But it seems like that the additional terminal in the area will be less disruptive," he said.

A new terminal, an addition to the four terminals that Naia has could be a more viable solution, he said.

Air traffic congestion and the ensuing flight delays have been a perennial problem for airlines and aviation officials with airlines incurring losses of more than P7 billion a year due to additional fuel expenses.

Will the new terminal solve the problem? Abaya said the proposal is still being studied.

"When you land here, you can exit that way. It will allow passengers to use C5, South Luzon coming to the airport," he said.

Abaya was referring to the portion of C5 South Extension, which connects SLEx and C.P. Garcia Avenue to Coastal Road.

He said a new terminal would also address additional parking space which has been a challenge for airlines.

Abaya said the DOTC was more keen on having the new terminal as a viable option to address air traffic congestion since there will be no need to expropriate lands.

"The new terminal will be within the Naia property. With the third runway, you have to expropriate lands. If you put cost to time, then a runway is more costly," Abaya said.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Dec 18, 2014
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