Finger pointing NAIA inefficiency

 May 3, 2012

Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas was right when he blamed over the weekend the tight scheduling of airlines as cause for delays in passenger flights currently experienced by NAIA passengers.

Roxas claimed that the normal turnaround time of single aisle jet (A319/320) is one hour but budget airlines squeezes more time to enable it to fly 30 minutes earlier. He said that such tight scheduling doesn't pose a problem if they are operating in not so busy airport. But operating at NAIA poses a challenge as Cebu Pacific would always find out as most of their turn around flight arrives late affecting the time schedule of subsequent flights.

He further claimed airlines to be booking most flights during peak hours.

The only remedy he said is to reduce flight frequency. But how?

Philippine Airlines is cool to the proposal. They easily have the capability to upgrade the equipment.

But Zest Airways is not receptive to the idea propounded by DOTC claiming the government has no clue how to enforced flight reduction, and that reducing airlines' flights would bring about a "grandfather issue."

"Who among us will reduce flights? If I only mount twice a week flights to a certain route as against the daily flights of a bigger carrier, will both of us reduce the same number of flights?" said Art Alejandrino, a director of ZestAir.

Cebu Pacific who has the most number of flights out of NAIA argued the proposal flawed as it is not feasible on economic grounds.

Image courtesy to Arlene Pasaje
The airline instead insisted that aviation officials should come up with a well-managed airport slotting, which dictates the specific time an airline is to land and take off from NAIA, to prevent congestion. It also called the attention of DOTC to quickly equip secondary airports around the country with ILS (instrument landing system) equipment to allow them to handle night flights to ease congestion. 

Cebu Pacific said this would allow airlines to spread out their flights throughout the day to the airports like Legaspi, Naga, Caticlan, Dumaguete, Butuan among other airport which have multiple flights but whose airport cannot host flights after sunset.
Cebu Pacific further said that government failed to resolved and relocate general aviation traffic sooner despite previous findings that they wasted too much time on approach, landing, and occupancy at the runway creating delay at the airport.  General aviation (Genav) was known in the study to account 20 percent to 25 percent of all the takeoff and landing slots at NAIA per day.

The airline further said that NAIA is the only busy airport in Southeast Asia allowing genav airplanes to mix with commercial jetliners.

Southeast Asia Airlines supported Cebu Pacific position on the transfer.

 "The DOTC must have the political will to transfer general aviation out of NAIA. These small aircraft with usually less than five passengers eat up some 17% of total takeoffs and landings. Imagine the benefit to the economy if each of those flights is replaced with 158 or more passenger-configured aircraft. Why remove the bigger contributor to the economy?" Zapanta said.

MIAA previously disclosed that commercial aircraft pays more takeoff and landing fees as compared to small aircraft’s which uses the same amount of time to land or take off at NAIA.

There are 553 aircraft movements daily at NAIA on the average, with 450 (65%) planes using NAIA’s primary runway 06-24, while another 103 (35%) takes the airport’s secondary runway 13-31.

SEAIR further argued that MIAA is supposed to install the satellite-based radar 5 years ago but even bidding for said project has not been started yet.

"Whose to blame for that, airlines too?" laments Zapanta.

NAIA presently handles between 27 and 30 airplanes per hour.

Director General Ramon S. Gutierrez said the separation between airplanes is about three to five minutes because NAIA is still using the old Air Traffic Management system.

The Communications/Navigation System-Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) project designed to reduce separation time to close to 1 minute or around 60 flights per hour has been sent to the back burner for extensive review of contract, having been awarded at the time of the previous administration. 
Gutierrez said the radar would be in place some two to three years from now. The CNS/ATM is a satellite-based air traffic control system where approach to airports is guided by satellite and aircraft computers.

In a joint meeting Monday, CAAP, MIAA and CAB issued a joint declaration on how to address NAIA's congestion problem deciding that the most pressing move to reduce congestion would be to compel domestic airlines to reduce their schedules or scale down the frequency of their flights during peak traffic hours, which are between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. It was also suggested that airlines devote standby planes to cater for delayed flights as they are already on the ground.
Gutierrez said around 45 takeoffs and landings are scheduled per hour at NAIA, during peak hours, higher than the airport's ideal capacity of 36 flights per hour.

 It was also decided that general aviation and flying school will no longer be accepted and renewed at the country's premier airport after their contract expires this year. All of them will be relocated to nearby Sangley Airport, which will be redeveloped for general aviation traffic.

Sangley airport currently host the Philippine Air Force 15th Strike Wing and repair yard of the Philippine Navy, boast a 2,367-meter runway that is ideal for general aviation and commuter traffic.

The Sydney-based Airport Coordination Australia (ACA) was awarded the handling of airline schedules of NAIA since March, but the three government agencies concerned have yet to complete submission of all airline schedules as of this writing for the summer and winter schedules. ACA allows about 40 to 50 runway occupancies per hour better than CAAP computations.


  1. Charged more money to land and take off during prime time.

  2. NAIA and CAAP need to sort this one out but they can't blame the General Aviation for this mess. They both are at fault because they are delaying vital projects like the CNS-ATM, the upgrade of runways and taxiways and are inefficient and corrupt when it comes to there implementation of projects and procedures. Both offices have incompetent heads and management staff. How can ex military officers do a civilian management job?

  3. put all international flight at CLARK all domestic at MIA and GENAV at sangley

    1. hey stupid, is clark the capital of the philippines???? duh!!!!!

  4. This people dont have clue what they are doing, and filipinos pay tax for nothing. This country is going to hell if they dont do anything properly.
    Look at the infrastructure, the long ques, and always behind schedule.

    Send new people to abroad, learn management, how to run an airport, and kick the people in caap, they dont have degree to do what they are doing, they just know the right people to get hired.
    And naia 1 is hell on earth, ugly as hell, and filipinos are proud of their country! im half filipino norwegian myself. The first impression people get when they arrive somewhere is the airport, cleanliness, efficiency and so on.

  5. 5J Staying put in Manila

    Cebu Pacific is keeping flight operations out of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) intact amid calls from the government for all domestic airlines to reduce flights by as much as 30 percent during peak hours.

    The reduction in flights is aimed at decongesting the runway at NAIA so there would be lesser flight delays and cancellations. The call was supposed to take effect July 5.

    CEB said there are ongoing discussions between aviation officials and local airlines on how to decongest the runway other than flight reduction. Until those discussions are concluded, the budget airline is keeping its flights out of NAIA intact.

    ”There is a dialogue [that is] ongoing and the government is taking three major steps to address congestion at NAIA. We have to see what the effect is first before we can make a final decision,” said CEB president Lance Gokongwei.

    The NAIA runway can only accommodate an average of 36 events, whether for takeoffs or landings, per hour. However, actual scheduled commercial and general aviation flights went to as high as 50 events per hour during daytime in the summer season, causing a congested runway resulting in flight delays and cancellations.

    “But things are beginning to improve last June. For Cebu Pacific we are already on 81 percent on-time performance,” said Gokongwei.

    Cebu Pacific, he said, is working closely with the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) with its plan to take out general aviation at NAIA and transfer it to Sangley point in Cavite City; install night-landing facilities in busy airports; and work closely with a government-appointed independent slot coordinator which is tasked to distribute flight slots to various carriers. Gokongwei said these are three major steps that government has promised to undertake.

    Gokongwei said general aviation takes up 25 percent to 30 percent of the flight slots at NAIA during peak hours. “Why favor the interest of some versus the interest of many? Basically, it’s like Boeing 747 aircraft, which carries hundreds of passengers, versus Cessna planes which transports like less than 10 on board,” the CEB official pointed out.

    DOTC Secretary Manuel Roxas said the government recognizes the huge challenge stemming from the country’s air fleet having doubled from 62 aircraft in 2008 to 119 aircraft this year. Each of these planes flew at least three times a day to accommodate more than 29 million passengers in 2011, up from only 18 million in 2006.