DOTr To Complete Ormoc PTB

30 December 2016

Stronger PTB To Rise Up in Ormoc
The Department of Transport (DOTr) has allocated 85 million for the re-design, retrofit, repair and completion of new Passenger Terminal Building (PTB) that was damaged by typhoon Yolanda in 2013. 

The completion project  is set to restart next year after completing re-design and re-engineering works to the new terminal which is expected to open to the public in 2018. 

Meanwhile, the airport will also see construction of new control tower and navigational support facilities valued at 151.5 million and another 20.1 million to procure maintenance and service equipment.

According to the Transportation department, Ormoc airport already refurbished its small passenger terminal building that was badly damaged by the typhoon, as well as procured new safety and security equipment
after an airline manifest intent to use the airport in 2015

However, DOTr said the completion of the new terminal is being undertaken to enable the airport to meet international standards and accommodate more passengers from larger airbus aircraft that will soon be fielded by airline companies.

The airport went back to business when Cebu Pacific launched flight to the airport in November 19 with ATR 72-500 aircraft from Cebu.

Duterte Approves Clark LCC Terminal

24 December 2016

President Rodrigo R. Duterte has approved the construction of a new Passenger Terminal Building (PTB) for Clark International Airport (CIA) with a price tag of 2.89 billion, the budget department (DBM) said yesterday.

The modular low cost carrier terminal project (LCC Terminal) will be constructed in 3 phases with the first building having a passenger capacity of 3 million passengers per annum (MPPA) and construction is expected to start by the second quarter of 2017. Completion of the first phase should be completed in 2019.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said Friday that National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board trimmed down the terminal project from the original 10 MPPA capacity terminal presented by Aéroports de Paris Ingénierie (ADPI) valued at 15 billion saying the proposal was too ambitious as it assumes the transfer of all low cost domestic traffic out of Manila airport. The original proposal was instead relegated to the second phase when need arise for its expansion in the future.

CIA is operating grossly under capacity as it facilitated only 1.2 million passengers in 2016 from the current terminal capacity of 5 MPPA.

Clark International Airport Corp (CIAC) President Alexander Cauguiran has said 800 million of the budget allocation was sourced from the General Appropriations Act (GAA) in 2015 while the balance of 2.09 billion was drawn from the GAA in 2016.

Duterte Signs Sangley Airport Development Project

23 December 2016

President Rodrigo Duterte has signed Thursday the first phase of 435.9-billion Sangley International Airport Development Project amounting to 707 million for air-side developments necessary to accommodate General Aviation, Turboprop, and Regional Jet Traffic (ICAO A&B  aircraft category).

When completed in 2019, the airports runway should accommodate at least 25,000 aircraft movement annually, roughly equivalent to 8 traffic movements per hour on peak time, and should be able to handle 3 million domestic passengers per annum on a low cost modular terminal to be bidded out next under the expansion program slated for 2018. 

The second phase which is expected to cover the new gateway project beginning with land reclamation,  parallel runway and taxiway construction, PTBs, and other landside support services should be able to handle about 20 million passengers per year when it opens in 2028 revised timeline, which together with the existing NAIA terminals would be enough to meet Greater Manila Areas estimated traffic demand of 60 million passengers.

Meanwhile, The 2017 airport spending program includes 2.2 billion budget for Panglao Airport Project, 675 million Bicol International Airport Project (ILS), 341 million Cotabato Airport Development Project, and  200 million for New  Communication  and  Navigation  Airport Development  Project (CNS-ATM) Phase III, among others with a total airport infrastructure price tag of 5 billion pesos, according to data from the budget department DBM.

SkyJet Connects Siargao

22 December 2016

After two years wait, Skyjet Airlines (MSJ) has secured regulatory approvals for the much anticipated flight to Siargao Island commencing February 24, 2017 with the use of BAE 146-200 jet.

Flight M8-421 leaves Manila's Terminal 4 every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday at 6am arriving Sayak Airport at 7:10am. Return flight will be at 8:10am arriving Manila at 9:20am.

Parent company Magnum Air recently acquired another BAE 146-200 jet with seating capacity of 112 passengers to service Sayak airport route along with Caticlan, Busuanga, Coron, and Basco. 

Skyjet fleet comprises a pair of BAE146-100 and 1 BAE146-200.

Sweeter The Second Time?

PAL Express Returns To Clark Again

16 December 2016

Philippine Airlines subsidiary PAL Express is starting operations in Clark International Airport for the second time around Friday beginning with daily flights to Caticlan.

PAL President Jaime Bautista hopes the Clark hub will work for them as they introduce more flights to the airport beginning January 30 next year.

“Hopefully our operations in Clark become successful” he said.

The flag carrier intends to add more flights to Clark by January 2017, including daily flights from Clark-Cebu and Clark-Davao; four-times-a-week flights from Clark to Busuanga, Palawan, plus three times per week flights to Cagayan de Oro. In addition, PAL will launch daily international flights to Incheon, South Korea beginning February 1.

The airline plans to have a total of 21 flights per week at Clark Airport by March of 2017 using Q400s and A320 planes.

In May 2012, PAL Express operated flights from Clark to Kalibo, Cebu,and Davao as well as international flights to Hong Kong and Singapore. All flights were terminated after one season leaving Cebu Pacific behind which has been operating successfully at said airport and has since grown the route left both by PAL Express and Air Asia Philippines.

PN Secures Air Defense Radar For Frigates

15 December 2016

The Government of the Philippines has secured approval for the acquisition of a pair of multi-role AN/SPS-77 Sea Giraffe 3D Air Search Radars and related support equipment from the United States (US) to be used for its naval frigates.

The radars will be supplied by Swedish firm SAAB Defense and Security in a deal valued at $25 million coming from US Foreign Military Sale (FMS) assistance under its Southeast Asia Maritime Security Initiative, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency said on Wednesday.

The AN/SPS-77 Air Search Radars will be installed on two Hamilton-class cutters acquired through the Excess Defense Articles (EDA) program by VSE Corp and Saab.

The state of the art radar system replaces the old SPS-40 radar of the cutters which were previously removed by the US Coast Guard and is expected to provide enhanced ability to detect and track air and sea contacts.

The new radar, which is also being installed into the USS Independence and other ships of the U.S. Navy's Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Independence variant program, as well as ASEAN navies of Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand, can detect air and surface targets from the horizon up to a height of 20,000 metres (66,000 ft) at elevations up to 70°, and can simultaneously handle multiple threats approaching from different directions and altitudes, including diving anti-ship missiles.

PAL Buys Brand New Q400NG From BBD

9 December 2016

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) has officially concluded a purchase agreement for five Q400 next generation turboprop airliners from Bombardier Commercial Aircraft (BBD), with purchase rights for additional seven aircraft, the Canadian aircraft manufacturer announced yesterday.

Bombardier said the value of the transaction is $165 million based on the Q400 list price, increasing to $401 million if the airline exercises all of its purchase rights.

Philippines Airlines Q400NG orders will be configured for 86 seats in two classes, Business and economy. The five aircraft will be delivered to the airline in 2017 replacing the old Q400s in the fleets inventory, Bombardier said. 

The planes will be operated by its low cost subsidiary PalExpress through Air Philippines Corporation. Meanwhile, the newer Q300 fleet will continue to operate with the airline as it has been recently acquired.

High Flyers

9 December 2016

Closer Look at CAAP Boss

By Rina Jimenez-David has been a “high-flying” career, and not just because he’s a pilot. Capt. Manuel Antonio “Skee” Tamayo has spent much of his career flying for Philippine Airlines, but that’s not the half of it. Captain Tamayo, who now heads the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, has, as he puts it, flown “six heads of state since Tita Cory.” And that list includes not just President Duterte but also Pope Francis, who was his passenger during that fateful trip to Tacloban.

If you will recall, when Captain Tamayo (he still retains the title) boarded the papal plane bound for Tacloban, there was a typhoon brewing in the vicinity, but it was far enough to ensure that the Pope would land in Tacloban safely. But later that morning, Tamayo got news that the typhoon was moving closer and could hit Tacloban in the afternoon. “So I had to talk to the Pope’s staff that we had no choice but to leave by noon if we wanted to be in Manila that evening.” And that’s why the Pope had to cut short his trip to Tacloban amid the high winds of the approaching typhoon.

Saving a pontiff from the dangers and tribulations of weather disturbances is part and parcel of a pilot’s job. As is securing the safety and comfort of the country’s presidents. But judging from his demeanor, it’s safe to assume that Tamayo has kept his calm and cool persona even as he flew the country’s most important officials, and even as he copes with the rising demands of the aviation sector, given the burgeoning number of tourists and travelers.

Speaking of his high-profile VIPs (very important passengers), has Tamayo ever received a huge tip from them? He just smiles and shakes his head, although, he adds, Pope Francis did give him “many rosaries,” all blessed by the Pontiff, it is hoped.

Captain Tamayo was the guest at yesterday’s “Bulong Pulungan sa Sofitel,” together with Ed Monreal, the new general manager of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Cathay Pacific's Ed Monreal runs NAIA

Monreal shares much the same background as Tamayo, having served as a long-time executive with Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific. Their years of experience with airlines, it turns out, serve them well as they seek to move out of the welter of complications (and complaints) that bedeviled previous aviation authorities. “It was a challenge for me,” Monreal describes his attitude upon being invited by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade to take on his post. He had retired from airline work, he disclosed, and his wife “had been egging me to take on a job because I was hanging out at home a lot.” And so far, he adds, he has no regrets about taking on the challenge.

With the country’s aviation industry, including its airlines and airports, upgraded to “Category 1” status some months back by international authorities, the challenge confronting the pair, they said, is “not just to maintain this status but even upgrade it.”

While ordinary travelers may demand nothing more than simple changes like shorter queues, cleaner restrooms and an end to the “tanim bala” or bullet-planting scam that became a full-blown scandal (now a thing of the past, it is hoped), both Tamayo and Monreal are working on more serious issues like security and safety.

For instance, the CAAP and Naia have recently installed a fully-functioning ILS or Instrument Landing System to ensure safer takeoffs and landings of aircraft in the country’s main gateway. Tamayo says they are also in the process of upgrading a satellite tracking system that would improve their ability to track airplanes flying above Philippine airspace. The fees paid by the airlines for use of this airspace, adds Tamayo, is “the CAAP’s biggest source of income.”

One of the Bulong ladies couldn’t resist commending the pair for “resisting the temptation to put the blame for all your problems on the previous administration.” Instead, they choose to focus on the job at hand, even commending steps carried out by their predecessors that make their jobs easier these days. As Monreal puts it: “We’re just here to work.”

Bicol Airport Lays Groundwork For PTB

8 December 2016

Bicol International Airport Passenger terminal (PTB) break grounds today with President Rodrigo Duterte spearheading the time capsule laying at the airport complex.

The airport terminal project was upgraded by the Transport Department (DOTr) after the Laguindingan Airport experience where the brand new terminal was operating at capacity barely three months after opening itself to the public and has operated beyond capacity ever since. Capacity shortfall was caused by repeated project implementation delays on account of budget shortfall of the national government which also plagued Bicol and other airport infrastructure projects.

The old terminal planning design made possible by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) that sponsored Airports Master Planning Project prepared in 1997 was good for project implemented in 2003 with supposed completion date in 2006, but problems in lot acquisitions and budgetary shortfalls prompted project deferrals for 10 years.

The revised project schedule covers dramatic expansion of passenger terminal building from the original 5,250 square meters to 13,220 square meters with Passenger Boarding Bridge facilities, designed to address the expected passenger volume of about 2.15 million by 2025. Similar revisions were being implemented for ongoing airport projects in Puerto Princesa and Tagbilaran and for the upgrading of General Santos Airport terminal building.

The airport construction project will have a price tag of P4.8 billion, and is expected to be completed in 2020.

PAF Receives Two More FA-50

1 December 2016

The Philippine Air Force welcomes the second batch of a dozen fighter planes ordered from South Korea in a deal worth 18.9 billion.

The fighter jet which landed at Clark airport before noon on Thursday displayed a diamond formation reminiscent of the old glory days of the air force used to be done on the erstwhile F-5 fleet.

The arrival of two more FA-50 (tail #3 and #4) raises the number of existing jets of the Philippine Air Force to four. They were piloted by two South Koreans from Korean Aerospace and arrived at Clark Air Base around 11:41 a.m. and 11:42 a.m., respectively.

The two fighter jets left South Korea on Nov. 29 and reached Kaohsiung, Taiwan, yesterday. It then proceeded to Clark airport around 10:10 a.m. and were met by the first two FA-50s with tail numbers 0001 and 002 over Pangasinan. They made a diamond formation over Clark Air Base and were met with a water cannon salute when they landed.

The rest of the fighter jet is expected to be delivered on a staggered basis until 2018.

CEB A320 Lands At Caticlan

PAA Testing Flights

1 December 2016

Cebu Pacific inaugural A320 flight to Caticlan airport on November 23, 2016.        Image by Vincent Cerbas.

Philippines Air Asia testing A320 flights at Caticlan Airport on November 29, 2016.

PAL 5 Star Aims Start in 2018

PAL Re-configures Monoclass A330

1 December 2016

Philippine Airlines (PAL) is heading to "nose-to-tail reinvention" as it aims to become a five-star, full-service carrier by 2020, said President and COO Jaime Bautista on the sidelines of Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) 60th Assembly of Presidents in Manila.

Bautista confirmed that initiatives were already mapped out to remedy the carrier’s identity crisis and LCC inclinations as it re-positions back to become a full service carrier of the Philippines, a move that required a reconfiguration of all the mono-class aircraft in its fleet.

According to Bautista eight A330-300s will be reconfigured with business, premium economy and economy class seats for medium-haul flights to the Middle East, Japan, Korea, Australia and Honolulu. It will also be furnish with backseat In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) systems covering all classes which the present equipment doesn't provide.

The airline said the seat configuration of the A330 will be less dense than the current product they have.

Meanwhile, the upcoming A321NEOs orders which start arriving in the last quarter of 2017 will also sport backseat IFE's designed for regional destinations as well as medium haul routes to Australia and India.

PAL is currently rated three star by Skytrax.

CEB Newest A330 Carries New Livery

1 December 2016

First 240t A330-300 variant in the Philippines
There will be no Hawaii, Middle East or Australia expansion for this 7th A330-300 of Cebu Pacific, at least not yet, as the airline intends to boost domestic capacity to Cebu and Davao and expand international flight services to select regional destinations in Hong Kong and Singapore out of congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The next two birds however are more capable (240t) than its present sibling (235t) as it has activated center tanks capable of reaching Honolulu with 440 passengers.


Product Compatibility Issues Cited For Woes

30 November 2016

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Etihad Airways (ETD) is heading in opposite direction starting summer of next year if both company fails to salvage its strategic partnership agreement that should have marked a new era of cooperation between the two flag carriers.

The culprit of the airline's trouble appears to be wrong product choices of PAL which add to its woes when passengers started shying away from the airline and opted instead to fly ETD because of better product offers, most notable of which is the absence of In-flight Entertainment (IFE) System to its operating aircraft. ETD offers this product to all passengers regardless of fare classes.

The agreement which supposedly covers code-share flights, loyalty programs, airport lounges, joint sales and marketing programs, a Philippines domestic air pass, cargo, and the coordination of airport operations to provide a better guest experience at their Abu Dhabi and Manila hubs now appears in limbo as PAL failed to match ETD services.

PAL President and Chief Operating Officer Jaime J. Bautista said they will be converting some of the Airbus A330-300's that are used for the middle east flight but until now no product is introduced to the said route citing poor yield despite being given 5th freedom traffic rights from Abu Dhabi to any points in Saudi Arabia.

The Philippine carrier was expected to harmonize products offering with Etihad which it did in the early part of the agreement by fielding a bi-class A330-300 to the route but that strategy failed because of absence of IFE services which Abu Dhabi bound passengers desired.

Etihad Airways’ President and Chief Executive Officer James Hogan is trying to salvage the agreement with Philippine Airlines as it expires in six (6) month's time.

The commercial agreement was signed in Abu Dhabi on 28 April 2014.