IATA Supports PAL Airport

Clark Not Solution For MNL Congestion

President Aquino converses with International Air Transport Association (IATA) director general and chief executive officer Tony Tyler during a courtesy call at the Music Room in Malacañang Palace on September 27, 2012. Photo courtesy of Malacañang Photo Bureau.
President Aquino converses with International Air Transport Association (IATA) director general and chief executive officer Tony Tyler during a courtesy call at the Music Room in Malacañang Palace on September 27, 2012.            Photo courtesy of Malacañang Photo Bureau.

September 28, 2012

International Air Transport Association (IATA) representing 240 airlines around the world says it wants the Philippine Government to reconsider its plan to develop Clark International Airport as the Philippines' main gateway due to accessibility issues.

IATA Chief Executive Officer and Director General Tony Tyler from Cathay Pacific Airlines, said Clark is not a long-term solution to the country's capacity shortage. 

"If anything, the government’s plan to move the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) 100 kilometers away from the metropolis would only make traveling more inconvenient to passengers," the Association representative said.

"In my view, Clark is not the solution. It's too far away from Manila and it's in Manila where people want to go" Tyler adds.

"The state of air transport infrastructure in Manila is nothing short of a travesty," he said, adding that this is holding back the development of the Philippines.

"The Philippines also deserves better airport infrastructure. Arriving at Terminal 1 yesterday (September 26) brought a very strong sense of deja-vu. It was being constructed when I worked here in 1979. It has not changed much since that time. For me that brought back some fond memories. But for arriving tourists and business people it is a memorable welcome – and mostly for the wrong reasons," he shared.

"It is a congested and chaotic experience," he said.

He cited the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index, which ranks the Philippines 112 out of 139 countries for the quality of its air transport infrastructure.

"The only Asian countries to rank lower are Nepal, Bangladesh and Mongolia," he stressed.

IATA’s view support recent suggestions by flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL), an IATA member, for the construction of a new airport north of Metro Manila.

PAL President Ramon S. Ang earlier said Clark was too far from Manila to be a viable option to replace NAIA.

Tyler said the planned construction of a high-speed rail line that would go to to Clark in 45 minutes would be a costly experiment that would most likely fail. 

Meanwhile, IATA will suggest to the government to make IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) and the IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO) requirements to operate in the country, without any cost for the government.

Tyler noted IATA airlines' safety performance are 52% better than other airlines.

"IOSA makes a positive difference. IATA does not produce banned lists or rankings," he said,

"In the interim period we need to maximize the potential of the current facilities — both the terminal building and airside. The implementation of the IATA Worldwide Slot Guidelines is now complete. And we are eager to work with the authorities on further solutions."

He also mentioned the upgrade in air traffic control system at NAIA. "We need to unfreeze a major upgrade of the air traffic control system which is badly needed."

He urged the government to prioritize aviation infrastructure. "Failure to make appropriate investments in air transport is leaving the Philippines behind in the Asian economic growth story."
"Look around the region. In the last 15 or so years we have seen whole new airports open in Hong Kong, Nagoya, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Bangkok. These countries place aviation connectivity as a core component of their economic strategy. And they have invested in the infrastructure to support the air transport links. And they are reaping the economic benefits," he said.

"I will be urging the President to personally intervene to sort this out. IATA certainly stands ready and willing to help. IATA has been providing support to improve the safety and efficiency of the air traffic management through observation programs of air traffic control, training for Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines personnel and development of procedures to improve operational efficiency.  We have also facilitated working groups to identify airport safety hotspots and review ATC procedures," he said.


  1. Cautions Government against too much private Investment

    The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has cautioned countries in Asia Pacific including the Philippines about too much private investment in the development of airport infrastructure to support demand growth in the region.

    IATA director general and chief executive officer Tony Tyler said governments in Asia Pacific should take a prudent approach to private investment in airport development projects as the trend emerging across the region particularly the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, and even Korea are all considering the participation of private investors.

    “I am not advocating for or against private participation. But there have been enough mistakes made when engaging the private sector in airport development. These should not be repeated,” Tyler warned.

    When governments work with private investors to develop infrastructure, he pointed out that these governments should establish an effective economic and service-level regulatory framework to ensure that the national interest is well protected.

    “That means ensuring that air connectivity is both cost-effective and efficient,” he said.

    The IATA chief cited the case in Delhi Airport where the 46-percent concession fee is making the airport unaffordable for airlines.

    Despite several appeals from the industry, the Airport Economic Regulatory Authority approved an increase of 346 percent.

    “Private sector participation was able to build a great hub facility. But the framework for economic regulation is not sufficiently supporting the long-term need for cost-efficient connectivity to fuel economic growth,” Tyler added.

    He also noted that when the Hong Kong government looked at airport privatization in 2003 to 2004, the conclusion was to keep Hong Kong International Airport fully under government ownership as the best way to ensure that it delivered maximum benefit to the Hong Kong economy.

    The Aquino administration is in the midst of building up the country’s airport infrastructure by constructing new airports and renovating old airports in different parts of the country.

    For one, national flag carrier Philippine Airlines that is owned by tobacco and airline magnate Lucio Tan and diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. is looking at putting up a new airport near Manila as an alternative to the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).


  2. Subic Bay airport could have been the Philippines' major gateway.
    It could serve three major metropolis, Manila, Subic and Clark.