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FVR finance chief bats for jt dev’t of NAIA, Clark

By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 6, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - A Cabinet member during the administration of President Fidel V. Ramos is urging the current administration to adopt a twin or dual airport system to decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Former Finance Secretary Roberto de Ocampo said the Aquino administration should pattern the joint development of NAIA and the Clark International Airport in Pampanga after the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia and Washington Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia supervised by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

He pointed out that the government should develop the Clark International Airport as NAIA would not be able to keep pace with the projected increase in air traffic.

 “Developing the airport would help spur the economic development of the residential areas between Clark and Manila,” he stressed.

De Ocampo, who is also chairman of Philippine Veterans Bank, recalled how the present dilemma in the aviation sector was anticipated during his term as secretary of the Department of Finance.

 “20 years ago, then President Fidel Ramos asked me to coordinate a plan to cope with rapidly growing air traffic in Metro Manila. After studying the problem, we proposed a two-pronged solution,” he added.

During that time, de Ocampo pushed for the extension of NAIA and the development of Clark Air Base.

He explained to President Ramos in 1998 how he witnessed the industrial and residential communities of Arlington flourish when Reagan and Dulles were being expanded.

 “We suggested a modular terminal for Clark. You just keep building one more wing after another. Nothing new, I’ve seen this done in Washington DC when I lived there from 1978-1987. I was the one who introduced the phrase – ‘Let’s do it like Dulles and Reagan’ because we couldn’t let go of NAIA and we were building Clark one modular terminal at a time,” he added.

De Ocampo remains hopeful that the original vision of Clark International Airport would be realized into a modern “aerotropolis” in Northen Luzon. 

An aerotropolis is a new urban form of placing airports in the center with cities growing around them, connecting workers, suppliers, executives, and goods to the global marketplace.

 “When I was studying the basics of urban planning, it included the idea of building magnets outside of the central metropolis in order to spread the urban community rationally outwards. For me, the magnet that we are looking at here is the Clark International Airport. And the other magnet which is not too far from here is Subic,” he said.

He also highlighted the importance of Subic as it is bigger than Singapore as the former US military base is a major port facility that could be used for dry docking servicing. 

“This airport facility is second to none and with the two combined, it gives you a fantastic export processing zone that could put us on the map,” he said.

He proposed modular terminals to allow the airport to continuously expand as traffic builds up.

A study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) showed that the number of passengers in Greater Capital Region would hit 106.7 million by 2040 from 31.88 million in 2012.

It expects passengers from the National Capital Region as well as Central Luzon and CALABARZON would rise steadily to 49.8 million in 2020, 75 million in 2030, and 106.7 million in 2040.

To meet these expected volumes, the government has identified two viable options that involve the expansion of Clark International Airport  as well as the development of a new international airport roughly within 20 to 30 minutes of Metro Manila.

One option entails the closure and sale of NAIA by 2030 wherein the new international airport to be operational by 2027 would provide 78 percent of the required passenger terminal building while the international gateway in Clark, Pampanga would handle 22 percent.

The other option, allows NAIA to co-exist alongside CIA and the new airport up to 2040 and beyond.

Once the gateway airport roadmap to 2040 is identified, the DOTC would finalize its plans to execute the policy. The DOTC wants to put into operation a new international airport by 2027 with the joint development of the congested NAIA in Manila and the Clark International Airport in Pampanga.

Diversified San Miguel Corp. (SMC) has presented to President Aquino a $10-billion international airport to be situated in a 1,600-hectare property owned by CyberBay Corp. at the boundaries of Las Piñas and Parañaque along the Manila-Cavite expressway (Cavitex).

Meanwhile, Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian urged Malacañang yesterday to approve the proposal of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAAP) to construct a parallel runway at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) citing the project’s economic and safety gains for the country.

He said congestion at the NAIA costs carriers more than P7 billion annually in terms of fuel and engine costs, and aircraft time yearly that is much higher than the P2-billion price tag of a new runway.

The parallel runway will expand NAIA’s capacity from 40 to around 60 aircraft movements per hour, the lawmaker said, citing news reports.

“The government should build the runway as soon as possible. That’s cheaper than a new airport and faster to construct,” Gatchalian, who is vice chairman of the House committees on tourism, and Metro Manila development, said in a statement.

“At the same time, carriers will be able to save fuel and in turn, lessen costs. I hope the Executive department will decide in favor of the new project,” he said.

He said air traffic congestion affects the movement not only of passengers but of goods and services as well.

“Delays because of overcrowding in runways ruin tourist experience and affect the delivery and arrival of goods, especially time-sensitive goods such as food products and pharmaceuticals, as well as services,” he said.

He said an additional runway will help ensure the safety of passengers because planes won’t be forced to wait long up in the air to use the overcrowded airport.– With Paolo Romero
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