January 4, 2012
By Recto Mercene
By Recto Mercene
Antonio Bautista, Miaa senior assistant general manager, made the announcement, a day after President Aquino had announced in Malacañang the approval of the huge allocation in preparation to the expected surge in arrivals at the Naia-1 as a world-class aviation facility.
This is also in line with government’s bid to increase tourist arrivals in the country to 10 million from the present 3.5 million.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the fund will be used by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) for urgent structural retrofitting and other rehabilitation work, as well as the construction of a rapid exit taxiway.
“If we are to revive Naia 1, we must first address the structural integrity of the terminal for safety of travelers. That will provide a firm foundation for further improvement work to ensure efficient, convenient and comfortable travel,” said Abad, echoing earlier statements of Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas that structural improvements for Naia 1 will be given top priority.
The 30-year-old Naia 1 is hoped to be a world-class airport after the rehabilitation that includes the repair and re-pavement of Naia 1 runway 06-24, aside from the secondary domestic runway 13-31.
The original runway repair and re-pavements should have been done on November 9, 2011, but officials from the Airline Operators Council (AOC) requested the airport management to delay it to January 9, 2012, to give way to the holiday peak seasons, which saw heavy volume of air travelers arriving in the country.
The main runway repair and re-pavements, measuring 3,747 meters long, 60 meters wide, and 5-inch thick concrete, will be done after midnight, between 12:30 and 5:30 a.m. It has a budget allocation of around P350 million and the project will be completed in six to eight months, Bautista added.
Low cost carrier (LCC) operators like Cebu Pacific, Airphil Express, ZestAir, and Seair were earlier advised in subsequent meetings held last September to October to adjust their schedules.
Bautista said a revised schedule would allow take-offs to start at 4 a.m. daily.
Runway 13-31, the Miaa’s secondary runway, is equipped with complete runway lighting facilities for nighttime use.
Bautista said that on the average, domestic arrivals at the Naia starts at about 6 a.m. daily and their effects on total operations, including international flights, will be minimal.
“We are very sorry for the inconvenience to other airlines but we have to do this. The repairs are overdue,” added Bautista.
He says the retrofitting program starts on Monday, January 16, starting with the pulling out of the arrival lobby escalator connecting the arrival to the departure level.
Although plans to relocate the banks located between the arrival lobby and the customs area are ready, relocations will have to wait until structural retrofitting is finished to save time and expenses.
He said P20 million was allocated for repairs on the 72 toilets spread around the terminal and that improvements of the toilets have been continuing since last year, starting at the customs arrival area and departure.
“The acceleration of the Naia 1 rehabilitation, as well as the reconfiguration of the funding mix for the project, was due to the sense of urgency displayed by Secretary Roxas,” he added.
The budget chief said the P1.16 billion was sourced through a reallocation from the Public-Private Partnership Support Fund in the DOTC’s budget for 2011.
Of the total amount, P340 million will be used for urgent structural retrofit to improve the structural integrity of the Naia 1 building, so that it will be compliant with the 2010 National Structural Code of the Philippines.
According to DOTC, the Naia 1, which was originally designed for 4.5 million passengers per year now services 7.3 million passengers annually.
Meanwhile, P500 million has been allocated for architectural, engineering and interior design and works to improve the airports internal facilities. This will not only mean the replacement of worn-out interiors but also the increase of immigration counters.
To address runway congestion, P300 million of the total fund will be used for the construction of a rapid exit taxiway. This does not only address travel delays but also enhances safety.