Parallel runway–the immediate and realistic solution to Naia’s woes
Passengers missing connecting flights, waiting long hours standing by at the airport terminal, waiting inside the aircraft before takeoff, unreliable arrival and departure schedule, and flight delays… These are sad realities happening in our airports today, both international and domestic.
What do we really need to address these problems? Another airport terminal to accommodate more passengers? Or a parallel runway, according to a senior commercial pilot, for simultaneous takeoffs and landings, to increase the number of arriving and departing planes, and not just to increase the capacity of the terminal?
We need an immediate, realistic and feasible solution to the worsening airport condition in the country.
According to our source, Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) is the only international airport in Asia with no parallel runway.
Naia has two intersecting runways: the primary runway 06/24 and the secondary runway 13/31. There is only one parallel runway in the Philippines and it is in Clark International Airport, but apparently, it is not being utilized.
We heard that there was an admission from Air Traffic Control that they reach the maximum capacity to handle incoming flights in the afternoon, the cause of long flight delays, resulting in domino effect until late-night flights.
The senior captain said that morning flights were still bearable. After ground time of 10-15 minutes they were expected to be airborne. But afternoon flights usually take 35 to 45 minutes ground time before takeoff.
Due to traffic congestion, airplanes were sequenced or given priorities for landing. If there are aircraft ahead or let’s say on one specific flight, the pilot will be ordered to hold on a specific area or way point. The pilot will just make a race track pattern until his sequence.
However, during the holding, if the primary and reserve fuel has been consumed, the pilot has no other choice but to use his diversion fuel and immediately proceed to land to his designated alternate airport because the remaining fuel is allotted only for the said diversion.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said airlines are losing at least P7 billion a year in fuel and in engine maintenance costs because of the air traffic congestion in Naia. The loss is shouldered solely by the airline companies. They don’t charge a single cent to the passengers.
I was shown a runway map of several Asian countries where they have two to three runways and currently constructing their fourth runways. All have parallel runways, except Naia.
The sequence is as simple as standby, landing, takeoff, then cross the runway, with at least 2-3 minute intervals.
The source added that our current situation will continue until another runway is constructed, to increase the capacity of the airport to handle incoming flights.
San Miguel Corp. (SMC) president Ramon S. Ang proposed a short-term solution to the congestion problem of Naia, to build a third one, parallel to runway 06/24, a 2,500-meter-long runway in the first phase, and can be done in two years’ time.
Ang said this would be enough for another 50 takeoff and landing activities per hour in Naia which is currently clocking 42 takeoff and landing activities per hour.
This is a part of the proposed P57-billion Naia expansion project of the SMC, but Ang said they will probably make the proposal to the next administration if the current leadership does not believe in the project.
On the issue that the new runway would affect the existing radar system of the airport, concerned pilots suggested to relocate the radar instead, purchase a new one and find an alternate location to give way for the construction of the runway. The existing radar system can be transferred to other international airports.
On the issue of ROW (right of way), it is always expected and inevitable that there will be affected areas to give way to progress. It is an issue of political will. A little sacrifice is needed. It’s a good feeling to be a part of the solution.
Runway construction is a continuing process. Before those countries reached their capacity in handling incoming flights, they never stopped constructing, they continue to build.
The growth of aviation industry must always be accompanied by the government’s infrastructure projects such as airport terminals and runways.
We always believe that every problem has its own solution, otherwise, if there’s no solution, it’s not yet a problem.
“Kapag gusto, maraming paraan. Kapag ayaw, maraming dahilan.”
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