Upgrade Naia before focusing resources on DMIA
There are two schools of thought involving the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) in Pasay City and the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in Clark, Pampanga. One is for the sale of Naia and the retention of the Clark airport. The other is for the retention of the two international airports.
With only the DMIA in Clark in operation, thousands of airline passengers have to be transported between Clark and Metro Manila at least every 40 minutes. During the previous Arroyo administration, a huge dollar loan was secured to finance the building of a double-track NorthRail between Metro Manila and Clark. Part of the expenses was for the purchase of the right-of-way and for the relocation of the families that would be relocated by the project and for the construction of roadways to their new surroundings. As expected, the funds for the project have been dissipated; and the Chinese government and its contractor, on one side, and the Philippine government, on the other side, have never really come to terms on the technical aspects of the project.
Recently, Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas revealed government plan to sell the entire Naia property in Pasay City to finance the improvement of the Clark airport. This means that Naia will cease to exist. In line with Roxas’ idea, President Aquino is said to be in favor of negotiating another loan from Japan.
I think that Naia should be retained. It can co-exist with the Clark airport. The government’s plan to decongest the Naia runway by building a rapid-exit taxiway would allow landing aircraft to immediately leave the runway, enabling more aircraft to land and take-off. This rapid-exit taxiway will be parallel to the main runway, allowing more aircraft to land and take off at the rate of 45 to 60 per hour. The improved taxiway will also enhance safety.
Actually, there are three terminals in Naia. With much-needed improvement, these can satisfy domestic and international requirements and be at par with the world’s best. Acreage is not a problem as there is room for expansion outside the terminals. It will definitely take less time and cost to improve Naia and transform it into a world-class airport. Even if the Clark airport shall have become fully operational and the much-talked about 40-minute travel time shall have become possible, the availability of five- and four-star hotel accommodation in Clark and environs will remain a dream devoutly to be wished!
Let us improve Naia first and make it world-class. Following this, our efforts and resources should be concentrated on the Clark airport. The latter will augment the facilities the nation needs for air travel.
—APOLONIO G. RAMOS,
42 Mindanao St., Marikina City
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