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According to Tugade, Clark International Airport has the space and facilities necessary to handle some of the traffic, while the Ninoy Aquino International Airport can still remain useful over the next seven years.
"In Clark, you have the space," said Tugade. "The development must be pushed and pushed hard at the Clark International Airport. The remedy for Clark and NAIA is they can co-exist and therefore, they must be improved and developed."
The decision to develop the country's two major international airports is earning mass support across the country and in various sectors of government including the Philippine Senate where Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III stated that he would push the Senate to advocate for the development of NAIA and Clark International Airport. According to Pimentel, the nation needs the airports as its main international gateways. He added that NAIA could serve South Metro Manila and Southern Luzon to Bicol, while Clark International Airport can serve North Metro Manila and Northern Philippines.
Meanwhile, Tugade remains open and eager to develop more Private-Public Partnerships for other airports, similar to what was established for Mactan-Cebu International Airport. However, Tugade indicated that he will only support such initiatives if the companies do not ask the government for cash, sovereign guarantees, or obligatory transfer of aircraft from other airports. The Duterte administration plans to cut the PPP bidding process down to six months to help expedite infrastructure projects.
Unlike his predecessors, Tugade is eager to create change and deliver results acting on previous plans that the previous administration failed to enact. Tugade has identified a number of priorities that he intends to carry out in his early days of office including:
- Expediting the installation of ILS and night landing lights at a number of the nation's airports in order to enable them to handle night flight operations. This will give airlines greater freedom to schedule flights around the clock and minimise congestion at Ninoy Aquino International Airport during daylight hours.
- Making Clark International Airport a viable alternative to Ninoy Aquino International Airport by establishing transportation links to create seamless connectivity between Clark and Metro Manila.
- Enhance the quality and efficiency of operations at Ninoy Aquino International Airport by establishing another parallel runway, improving facilities, and improving services, while a brand new airport is constructed.
- Improve the experience in the various terminals at NAIA. Terminal 1 will see improvements to passenger comfort and safety including the removal of a steep ramp that arriving passengers were forced to use to access their vehicles. Terminal 2 will also be expanded.
The Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, once voted the world's worst airport, will see a number of on-going improvements to create a better passenger experience. Secretary Tugade is promising better enforcement of traffic rules around the terminals and an overhaul of rules covering public transportation including taxis to help improve the flow of traffic.
Inside the terminals, Tugade wants to remove the first x-ray check at the entrance of all terminals to help improve the flow of departing passengers. This is a practice that is not currently done at most international airports around the world.
With the removal of private and civilian aircraft at NAIA, additional space will be made available to develop additional apron parking for aircraft and rapid exit taxiways, which will help improve the flow of air traffic on the ground and increase overall efficiency at the airport. The government will also implement strict flight scheduling and slot utilization rules.
The Department of Transportation also intends to implement recommendations made by a British consultant on runway optimization and the regulation of general aviation during peak hours, which will help improve efficiency and reduce congestion. The potential of this initiative will be realized further once night landing capabilities have been installed at domestic airports.
Tugade also intends to enhance services provided at Clark International Airport. With a pending plan to eventually shift turbo-prop flights to Clark, Tugade wants to ensure that Clark is equipped with the facilities to handle increased passenger traffic but also diverted flights from NAIA. This includes the purchase of stairs used by aircraft to disembark passengers.
In addition, Tugade also intends to improve services at Clark for overseas Filipino workers to make the airport more user-friendly for arriving and departing OFW's. This will encourage more OFW's and airlines to use Clark as an alternative to NAIA.
Tugade also promised a review of the Airline Passenger Bill of Rights, noting that keeping passengers inside diverted aircraft for lengthy periods of time is not only unacceptable but inhumane. He intends to revisit the rules, which government when passengers should be provided with meals and accommodations by airlines.
However, one change that remains uncertain is if the government will rename the country's primary international gateway back to its original name as the Manila International Airport. In a recent survey conducted on the Philippine Flight Network website, 75% of respondents voted that the airport's name should be changed from Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Manila International Airport.
References: Philippine Star