Caticlan Airport Masterplan unveiled

June 28, 2011

Caticlan — A new $300 million (1.3 Billion Pesos) Caticlan Airport Development Project was unveiled over the weekend with San Miguel Corporation (SMC) as project proponent.

SMC President Ramon S. Ang said the budget will cover the expansion program of the airport complex which would be completed in two to three years time that will increase the terminal’s annual capacity to 3 million passengers from the current 500,000. The airport already serves about 700,000 visitors in 2010.

Airport improvements will cover land grading and reclamations to expand Caticlan's 850 meter runway to 1,000 meters in 2012, and up to 1,500 meters in 2025, according to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards, and a new terminal building complex will be constructed which will see also the construction of 5,000 hotel rooms, a convention center and commercial developments to be operated by third-party managers. Navigational aids and equipment to the tune of $20 million will also be installed a the airport for safety and night airport operations.

Trans Aire Development Holdings Corp., formerly Caticlan International Airport Development Corp., holds a 25-year concession from the government to operate and develop the airport.

Ang said they hoped to expand the airport’s runway to as much as 2,500 meters by 2030 but such project would entail more lot acquisitions and environmental concerns which is beyond their authority as airport operator.

"Its a dream. But if the government is able to secure more lands for its [airport's] expansion, then we'll be able to do that. Its better for us if an Airbus jet can land at this airport" says Ang.

ICAO requires airport of propose 4C or D design criteria with 2-2.5k runway x 45 meters specifications to have 150 meters of Runway Safe Area (RSA) otherwise known as the runway strip width. Caticlan airport currently have an RSA of 50 meters way below the standards of 60 meters but enough for exemption to 2B and 2C classification. It can expand at most to 100 meters RSA at its present lot, inclusive of the demolition of the hill on the east of the runway.

A 2B airport has 800 meter runway but not more than 1,200 meters for aircraft with wingspan of 15-23 meters. Cebu Pacific and Airphil Express uses an aircraft at the airport with a wingspan of more than 27 meters intended for a 2C airport which Trans Aire intends to comply in the short term.

An Airbus 319/320 aircraft has an Airport Reference Code of 4C that needs a 2.1K runway based on ICAO specifications, but at least 1,500 meters of runway will do for a restricted payload with destinations up to 800-1000 nautical miles (nm). The A319 has a maximum range of 3,700nm and 3,200nm for the A320 respectively if it were to take-off at its intended Aeroplane field reference length (ARFL).

5J beats 2P as Philippines Fastest Growing Airline in 2010

As LCC War Heats Up

June 27, 2011

Singapore - LCC airline Cebu Pacific Air (CEB) remain as the fastest growing low cost carrier in the Philippines after reporting a total of 10.4 million passengers carried in 2010, a 19% growth from the previous year's figure.

Cebu Pacific was followed by Philippine Airlines Low Cost subsidiary Air Philippines growing 11 percent and Zest Airways occupying the third spot.

APX deploys six A320s and eight Q300s/400s and expects to receive six more A320s before the end of the year, while CEB operates 10 Airbus A319, 14 Airbus A320 and 8 ATR-72 500 aircraft with four more frames for delivery in 2011, or a total of 37 planes for its fleet at the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Zest Airways have a fleet of five A320s, one Airbus A319 and four MA60s. It has on order for four A320s for 2011. It recently suspended the purchase of two Boeing 767-300 because of the political crisis in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Butch Rordiguez, Zest Airways’ commercial and external affairs senior vice president, said that the company will be acquiring 15 additional Airbus A320 up to 2015 as it targets to increase its Airbus A320 fleet to 25 aircraft.

Between 2012 and 2014, Cebu Pacific will take an additional 16 Airbus A320 aircraft.The company recently forged a deal at the Paris Airshow for 30 A321s and seven A320s to be delivered between 2015 and 2021. Airline CEO Lance Gokongwei ordered 37 new Airbus aircraft worth $3.8 billion for Asia Pacific region expansion.

APX senior vice-president for marketing and sales Alfredo Herrera said that by 2012 additional five A320s will join the fleet and another five A320s will join in 2013 to complete its 20-aircraft, $250-million expansion program approved last year.

Presently however, APX’s market share surged 353 percent to 1.9 million passengers in 2010, cornering 11 percent of the domestic market last year or nearly four times its market share of 2.9 percent in 2009 at the expense of CEB and PAL which have seen their market share decline amid APX's growth.

Airbus Subsidiary to implement RNAV in the Philippines

As it adopt Performance Based Navigation (PBN) System

June 25, 2011

Airbus S.A.S. subsidiary Quovadis, an Air Navigation Service (ANS) provider announced recently at the Paris Airshow that it will develop full PBN network of 11 major airports in the Philippines.

The project is a cooperation program between the French Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC) and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

The Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) concept allows for the optimization of the instrument procedure through the aircraft navigation performance, without the need for ground aids.

PBN allows an aircraft to fly precisely along a predefined route using a Global Positioning System (GPS). This concept is used en route, and can reduce aircraft separation, including the terminal area, and used to optimize arrival and departure procedures.

The program is jointly sponsored by the French DGAC, the French Civil Aviation University (ENAC), Airbus S.A.S. and Philippine based airline operators, namely Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific Air, Airphil Express and Zest Airways.

The major airport radars that will be upgraded with the next-generation air-traffic management system are Manila, Puerto Princesa, Zamboanga, Butuan, Dumaguete, Legaspi, Iloilo, Clark, Bacolod, Tacloban, Cagayan de Oro Kalibo, Laoag and Subic.

Quovadis, will design the “approach procedures” in Puerto Princesa, Zamboanga, Iloilo, Butuan, Dumaguete and Legaspi, while other airports would be designed by CAAP.

The current aviation navigation procedures in the country require aircraft to use ground-based navigation system, such as the distance-measuring equipment, very high-frequency omnidirectional range and radar.

With the advent of the new navigational aids, planes will now be able to use the so-called aeronautical highway, an invisible tracks or radials in the sky more accurately until they reach their destinations.

The PBN does away with such tracks or radials, which zig-zag in the sky, following predetermined routes as defined by the navigational aids.

The project also includes On-The-Job procedure design and obstacles data survey trainings by ENAC and CGx AERO in SYS, but also PBN training for Air Traffic Controllers and Flight Safety Inspectors.

Caap Director General Ramon Gutierrez said the trainings aims to consolidate CAAP skills and knowledge for a safe and efficient PBN implementation.

The GPS based navigation technique, coupled with on-board systems, allows optimizing the use of airspace, provides fully stabilized and managed approaches, therefore significantly improving safety but also reduces costs by shortening tracks and lowering weather minima.

“the PBN concept matches perfectly with the needs of the country" says Gutierrez.

Gutierrez added that "CAAP is fully committed to intensively develop PBN as per ICAO recommendations. We are pleased to cooperate with Quovadis in this project as they have the right expertise and experience in supporting the States in their PBN implementation. RNP approaches will also bring airspace management improvement and operators will benefit from operational savings.”

Quovadis and its partners will develop regulatory and operational approval process including obstacle data survey, procedure design and validation, Air Traffic Management and operators approval for CAAP.

"We are glad to be part of this initiative and to make the Philippine airspace one of the most PBN advanced in the world." Sebastien Borel, Head of Sales and Marketing at Quovadis said.

“This unique alliance of authorities, Air Navigation Services Providers and operators, is a true breakthrough in the industry” says Paul Franck Bijou, CEO of Quovadis.

FAA inspections finds fault on Lufthansa Technik

Finds repeated difficulties following US Regulations

June 22, 2010

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A repair station in the Philippines that services planes for nearly 50 airlines around the world has shown a pattern of stubborn problems that safety experts say underscore concerns about the airline industry's outsourcing of maintenance to facilities in developing countries.

The Federal Aviation Administration inspections of Lufthansa Technik Philippines in Manila said the facility had repeated difficulties in following U.S. regulations on matters ranging from record-keeping to calibrating tools used to make repairs. The records, which cover inspections from 2008 through last month, also cite recurring problems with training workers to FAA standards and unfamiliarity by in-house inspectors at Lufthansa Technik, a subsidiary of Lufthansa Airlines, with U.S. regulations.

Lufthansa Technik's "quality assurance department demonstrated an inability to effectively audit the repair station for compliance with all aspects of (U.S. regulations), specifically, appropriate facilities, tools/equipment, personnel and training requirements," according to an inspection in May.

A 2009 inspection noted that two in-house inspectors were unfamiliar with FAA aircraft maintenance regulations. The inspectors had recently received four hours of training in the regulations, but weren't tested for their knowledge afterward, it said.

The same inspection noted that "throughout the repair station numerous personnel are not aware of which airline they are providing maintenance for" and which country's regulations applied.

The reports show problems scattered throughout the facility rather than in one department, which indicates the problems are systemic, said John Goglia, a former National Transportation Safety Board member and an expert on aircraft maintenance. The result, he said, is an erosion of the margin of safety.

"As they expand into Third World countries to take advantage of the labor rates and lower costs these problems keep coming back because you just don't have the people infrastructure," Goglia said. "How many trained people do you think there are the Philippines, in Malaysia and in Indonesia? They are expanding a big operation with a relatively thin technical workforce."

The Manila facility employs 2,800 aircraft mechanics and other employees. It's certified by the FAA and aviation authorities from 20 nations to perform maintenance work ranging from routine repairs to major overhauls, according to Lufthansa Technik. The company recently began construction of a new hangar so that Airbus A380s — the world's largest airliner capable of seating up to 853 passengers — can be serviced at the facility.

The records were obtained from the FAA through a Freedom of Information Act request by a labor union, Unite Here, which represents employees of Lufthansa's catering subsidiary in North America, SkyChef. The union and the airline are in contract negotiations.

"None of the mentioned FAA audit findings had significant impact on safety and reliability of aircraft and components," Lufthansa Technik said in a statement.

"Each finding has been treated as an opportunity to enhance the existing system, as it is an industry standard to deal with findings from internal and external audits," the statement said. "Corrective actions have always been implemented and accepted by the FAA."

However, the report on last month's inspection said numerous problems cited in an August 2010 inspection still had not been corrected. "An acceptable corrective plan has been submitted, but due to recent failures, an on-site follow-up inspection ... is required," it said.

Bill Voss, president of the Flight Safety Foundation, an industry-supported group that promotes aviation safety worldwide, said the inspections indicate Lufthansa Technik Philippines has a problem with quality control, but he cautioned against making more general judgments about offshore aircraft repair stations.

"It's a huge leap to suggest this is representative of all foreign repair stations," Voss said. "I'm not sure offshore equals bad."

The FAA said in a statement that it holds foreign repair facilities to the same standards as U.S. facilities. Repair facilities that don't meet those standards can lose their certification. The FAA has certified Lufthansa Technik Philippines for repairs since 2000.

The Transportation Department Office of Inspector General announced in December it has launched an investigation of the FAA's oversight of maintenance performed for U.S. passenger airlines by outside contractors, including oversight of overseas repair stations.

A 2008 report by the inspector general said nine big U.S. airlines farm out aircraft maintenance at twice the rate of four years earlier and hire outside contractors for more than 70 percent of major work. While most of the outsourced work is still done in the U.S., often at nonunion repair shops, more than one-quarter of the repairs are done overseas, it said.

A bill backed by House Democrats that would have required the FAA to step up inspections of foreign repair stations from once a year to twice a year died last year. It was opposed by the European Union, which threatened to cut back on planes its airlines send to repair facilities in the U.S.

Lufthansa, one of the world's largest airlines, owns 51 percent of Lufthansa Technik Philippines, while the Philippine MacroAsia Corp. owns 49 percent.

The only U.S. carrier that sends planes to Lufthansa Technik Philippines for major maintenance work is Hawaiian Airlines, which flies to destinations in the Western United States, the Pacific and Asia. Lufthansa, Swiss Air, Qantas, LAN, Philippine Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Vietnam Airlines, Gulf Air, Kuwait Airways and Jet Airways are among some of the other airlines that use the facility for major work.

5J Flies to Tawi-Tawi

Start Flights on October 14

Low cost carrier Cebu Pacific (CEB) has announced that it will commenced daily flights from its Zamboanga hub to Tawi-Tawi on October 14, 2011, the airline said in a statement.

Tawi-Tawi is the airline’s 50th destination and 77th route. It is also the first route out of Zamboanga hub which will fly a daily service starting Oct. 14, initially utilizing the Airbus A319 aircraft.


Cebu Pacific will also start flying Cagayan de Oro - Iloilo route on the same date, on thrice a week service utilizing an Airbus A319 aircraft.

The destination would be CEB’s 78th route. It will be a Monday, Wednesday, Friday service starting Oct. 14. The airline flies to Manila, Cebu and Davao from Cagayan de Oro.

“CEB is proud to offer connectivity to Tawi-Tawi, given its religious and cultural diversity and potentials for trade and tourism. With our flights from Zamboanga, more Filipinos can experience the convenience and speed of air travel, on our trademark low fares,” said CEB VP for Marketing and Distribution Candice Iyog.

CEB currently operates 10 Airbus A319, 15 Airbus A320 and 8 ATR-72 500 aircraft. By the end of 2011, CEB will be operating a fleet of 37 aircraft – with an average age of less than 3.5 years – one of the most modern aircraft fleets in the world.

Between 2012 and 2021, Cebu Pacific will take an additional 23 Airbus A320 and 30 Airbus A321neo aircraft.

$13 Million Navaid for Laguindingan Airport Approved

June 20, 2011

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has approved a $13.3-million loan from the Export-Import Bank of Korea to bankroll the acquisition of navigational equipment for the long delayed Laguindingan airport development project in Misamis Oriental.

BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. told reporters that the Monetary Board has approved the loan from Eximbank of Korea for the Laguindingan airport navigational system and support facility.

Eximbank of Korea operates the Economic Development Cooperation Fund or the Korean official development assistance program and the Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund or an economic cooperation program with North Korea

Tetangco said the project is being undertaken by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

Laguindingan Airport is located in Misamis Oriental in Mindanao and would replace the Cagayan de Oro airport in the Cagayan-Iligan Corridor. It would serve the growth corridor covering the provinces of Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, and the island province of Camiguin.

Tetangco said the project would address the increasing demand for air transportation in the region.

The loan, he explained, is payable in 40 years and carries an interest of 0.15 percent per annum.

The BSP chief pointed out that the new loan approval would help augment the previous loans approved as early in 1998 and the latest in 2008.

The first loan agreement amounting to $62.75 million for the Laguindingan Airport Development Project was signed February of 1998.

The project involves the construction of a new airport, including a new runway, taxiway, apron and other similar facilities; new buildings such as passenger terminal building and cargo facilities; and air navigation and support facilities and other airport equipment and vehicles.

The airport is being constructed on a 400-hectare property in Laguindingan of which about 90 hectares was donated by property giant Ayala Land Inc.

In December of 2007, a supplemental loan agreement of $8.2 million was signed by the Philippines and Eximbank of Korea that would be funded through the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) for the Laguindingan Airport.

The supplemental loan was approved by the BSP in 2008.

The Laguindingan airport has been in the planning board since early 1900s.

The total development cost was estimated at $167 million. Contracted for the project was Hanjin Industries Construction Co. Ltd. of Korea.

5J Orders 30 321 Neos for Regional Flights

Firms 7 A320 Options

June 16, 2011

By Ghim-Lay Yeo

Philippine low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific has placed a firm order for 30 Airbus A321neo aircraft with 10 options, and firmed up options for an additional seven A320s.

The 37 firm aircraft orders will cost $3.8 billion at list prices, said the airline. It expects to take delivery of the aircraft between 2015 and 2021.

Cebu Pacific has not made an engine selection between the CFM International Leap-X and Pratt & Whitney PW1100G for the A321neo. The airline's existing fleet of A320 family aircraft are all powered by CFM International CFM56 engines.

"Cebu Pacific has made the largest firm order for the Airbus A321neo aircraft in the world. These 220-seater aircraft will be a real 'game changer' for Cebu Pacific because the A321neo will have a much longer range. We will be able to serve cities in Australia, India and Northern Japan, places the A320 cannot reach," said the airline's CEO and president Lance Gokongwei.

The order will more than double its fleet and triple its capacity, said Cebu Pacific. It operates 33 aircraft, comprising 25 A320s and eight ATR turboprop aircraft. It also has 18 more A320s on order, to be delivered from the second half of 2011 until 2014. With the new order, the airline's total firm orders will increase to 55.

Gokongwei said the A321neos will reduce the airline's unit cost per seat "to a level that cannot be achieved flying A320s".

Masbate to Re-open June 16

By Ernie Delgado

MASBATE CITY, June 13 (PIA)-- ZEST Air and Air Philippines has temporarily stopped flying to Masbate to give way to rehabilitation of the airport.

The carriers’ booking offices have announced that their daily round-trip flights from Manila would be suspended for more than a month until June 16.

In a separate announcement, Josefina I. Nuñez of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said the airport would temporarily stop aircraft movement and handling of passengers and cargo from April 27 to June 16.

During the period, Algimar Construction and Hi-tone Construction and Development Corp. would undertake repairs of the runway, Nuñez said.

She said the repairs, which were part of the infrastructure projects of the Department of Transportation and Communication, involves asphalt overlaying of portions of the runway and the damaged section of the pavement.

“Our intention is to offer a better air service by improving our facilities and the safety of our flying public,” Nunez said.

The Masbate airport, officially known as Moises R. Espinosa Sr. Airport, had been rendered inoperative a few years ago by slow repairs that lasted until late 2009.

CAAP has designated Masbate a “one-way airport” for all carriers to prevent a repeat of landing accident that occurred in 2008.

This means all takeoffs would be towards the sea while landings should in the opposite direction.

In the accident, an Asian Spirit Airlines flight overshot the runway on Jan. 3, 2008. (MAL/EAD, PIA Masbate)

More Seats to Malaysia

ASA attracts 2,500 more seats

June 10, 2011

Additional flight entitlements to Malaysia were approved Wednesday after the conclusion of bilateral air talks with the Malaysian government for more seat entitlements between Manila and Kuala Lumpur.

Civil Aeronautics Board executive director Carmelo Arcilla said the Philippine air talk panel agreed to an additional 2,520 seats weekly for Manila airport, on top of the current 2,300.

“Currently, the existing 2,300 seats between Manila and Kuala Lumpur are fully utilized by Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines and Malaysia Airlines,” Arcilla said.

He said Cebu Pacific planned to increase flights in the route while Air Philippines and Zest Airways had expressed interest to mount flights between Manila and Kuala Lumpur.

“We also agreed on unlimited traffic rights to airports outside of Manila, in keeping with the spirit of Executive Order 29,” he added.

Air Asia is operating flights between Clark and Kota Kinabalu.

“This is our first grant of unlimited traffic rights to our secondary gateways outside of Manila under EO 29,” Arcilla said, adding that the Malaysian government promised to reciprocate the rights to Philippine carriers.

Cebu Pacific has already asked the Civil Aeronautics Board for an allotment of 720 seat entitlements from the 2,520 additional seats agreed upon in the amended air services agreement (ASA) between the Philippines and Malaysia.

The listed airline currently mounts 10 weekly flights to Kuala Lumpur (KL) from Manila and plans to increase it further to 14 weekly flights in years time. CEB allotment already translates to 1,800 seats a week. The twice-a-day flights are equivalent to 2,520 weekly seats on a A320 with 180 seats.

“At a minimum and within the year, we would need an additional 720 seats a week. Starting next year though we want to go three times daily to KL,” said Candice Iyog, vice president for marketing and distribution. 

The ASA between the Philippines and Malaysia was amended during the two-day air talks which were concluded on June 8.

Cyclone Airline Plane crashed

June 9, 2011

A Cessna 182H Skylane plane (RPC-1336 )cn 18256575, operated by the Cauayan City-based Cyclone Airways and Flying School lost its control and crashed at Maconacon Municipal airport Wednesday morning.

The plane was coming from Cauayan City airport as it took off around 9:36 a.m.

No one died in the accident. Its pilot, Capt. Reynald Taquiqui, 56, and two other passengers, Farid Hotak Maeda, 28, a student pilot from Afghanistan; and Joseph Vergara, an aircraft mechanic, sustained minor injuries.

Police investigators said the pilot lost control when the plane’s front wheels malfunctioned while taxiing on the runway, causing the aircraft to swerve until it overturned.

The pilot however maintained that the crash was caused by a strong tail wind, which hit the plane just after it landed.

CAT 1 by June 2012

June 8, 2012

By Leithen Francis

Singapore - The Philippine government has set a June 2012 deadline for its civil aviation authority to achieve Category I status with the U.S. FAA.

“The president of the Philippines has given a time frame and it is June 2012,” the month Philippine Airlines (PAL) takes delivery of its next Boeing 777-300ER, PAL President Jaime Bautista tells Aviation Week on the sidelines of the IATA AGM in Singapore.

Philippine Airlines currently operates two Boeing 777-300ER
PAL has four 777-300ERs on order and Bautista says two are to be delivered in 2012 and two in 2013. PAL currently has two 777s, which it uses for services to Japan and Canada, and it wants the 777 type to replace its five Boeing 747s, he says.

The Philippines is currently designated as FAA Cat. II because the local regulator lacks trained and qualified personnel to do proper regulatory oversight. This problem exists because many of the CAA’s most qualified people leave to join the higher paying private sector. But Cat. II means PAL is unable to increase services to the U.S., change aircraft types on U.S. routes and codeshare with U.S. carriers.

If the Philippines gets Cat. I status, PAL will move to increase its daily Manila-San Francisco service to double-daily and increase its Manila-Los Angeles service to double-daily from nine times weekly, says Bautista. It is also eyeing Chicago, New York, San Diego and Seattle as future destinations, he says. PAL also plans to code-share with U.S. carriers—in the past it had code-shared with American Airlines and Continental Airlines—and longer-term it wants to join an alliance, he adds.

Bautista says the Filipino CAA has made some progress. He says the government recently made the CAA a “special authority” so it can keep the revenues it generates from landing fees, route charges, take-off fees, etc. This means the CAA now has more money to employ more qualified and trained personnel. He also says the CAA has been employing former airline pilots, some of which are over 65, to be check pilots. PAL also persuaded its VP of operations, John Andrews, in January to take up a full-time position at the CAA as deputy director “in the interests of the country.”

In addition, PAL has employed a Washington, D.C.-based aviation safety consulting firm, Tim Neel & Associates, to help train the regulator’s workforce and improve the regulator’s IT and other systems. Bautista says this consulting firm has top people who previously worked for the FAA and this firm has a lot of experience helping airlines in Africa.

Besides long-haul, PAL is continuing to expand its short-haul operation. Bautista says in March and April 2012 it will be taking delivery of two Airbus A320s on lease from GE Capital Aviation Services and it is in the market to lease two more A320’s for delivery in 2012’s last quarter. PAL presently has 17 A320s, all of which it plans to retain, he says, adding that they also have eight Airbus A330s, and four Airbus A340s.

Bautista says PAL’s separate low-cost carrier Air Phil Express has six A320s and plans to have nine at year-end and 14 next year. Airphil Express also operates Bombardier Q-Series turboprops.