Shift to Sangley airport good for international flights but a nightmare for local flights, passengers
Executives from Philippine Airlines (PAL), Cebu Pacific (CEB) and AirAsia Philippines are backing President Rodrigo Duterte’s to use Sangley airport in Cavite for general aviation and domestic flights.
But concerns were raised on Sangley’s lack of terminal capacity to handle domestic passengers, inability to handle night time flights, the transport connections from Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and chronic floodings.
“We are very happy that the government (will) develop Sangley for our domestic flights,” PAL president and chief operating officer Jaime Bautista said.
Bautista said his team would meet with Secretary Arthur Tugade this week for brainstorming to fast-track airline operations in Sangley.
Cebu Pacific spokesperson Charo Lagamon said the management would continue to cooperate with the government on other measures that will make the passenger experience better.
AirAsia Philippines chief executive officer Dexter Comendador said moving all general aviation and domestic airlines (turboprop operations) to Sangley could mitigate the congestion at NAIA.
But Comendador said the government should provide for a fast, reliable and efficient ground or water transport between NAIA and Sangley.
He said the move would make international and domestic jet operations in NAIA gain additional slots.
“But then again, CAAP (Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines) and MIAA (Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) should maximize available technology to ensure fast and on-time aircraft movement, as well as the efficient use of space in parking bays, ramps, taxiways and runways,” he said.
Comendador, who is also a pilot, said Sangley Air Base was only good for daytime operations in Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC), an aviation category in which visual flight rules (VFR) flight is permitted or where pilots should have sufficient visibility to fly the aircraft maintaining visual separation from terrain and other aircraft.
The runway in Sangley, he said, lacked the necessary lights for sustained safe commercial airline operations.
“Because of the lack of runway lighting conditions and navigation facility, I suggest that only turboprop operations be transferred because (turboprops) can fly lower and slower than jets, and jets from NAIA will need to stay at a higher altitude,” Comendador added.
He said there must be parallel airport operations. “Otherwise, there is no point to transfer commercial flights to Sangley if both airports can only operate alternately in the approach and departure area.”
Comendador also said Sangley airport has no terminals or facilities to handle the volume of domestic passengers.
Furthermore, Sangley airport’s runway elevation, according to him, is only 8 ft.
“At high tide, the northern end (of Cavite) gets flooded. The more it would easily get flooded during rainy season, thereby cancelling flights,” he explained.
The President reportedly directed the operations in Sangley Point to start immediately. (PNA)