By Martin A. Sadongdong
More airports will be made available for night operations this year, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said.
CAAP Chief Captain Jim Sydiongco said they are preparing more Philippine airports capable of operating at night to help solve air traffic congestion especially at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
At least four airports, including the ones in Calbayog and Ozamiz, are being readied for night operations, said CAAP Spokesperson Eric Apolonio.
“Definitely, mababawasan ang air traffic congestion sa NAIA dahil ang maximum namin ay 40 flights per hour. Ang traffic hour is from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m., kung ang schedule ay magiging 10 p.m., luluwag,” Apolonio said.
“Aside from that, kapag sa gabi mo ini-schedule ang flight, definitely, mas relaxed sila because they can fly out night time. Less road traffic din because unang-una kapag papunta sa NAIA dadaan sa EDSA. Imbis na umaga or hapon ang biyahe, kung ilalagay natin sa 10 p.m., minus ka na sa mga nakikipagsiksikan sa daan,” he added.
In 2016, 19 airports were able to conduct night operations: NAIA; Mactan-Cebu; Clark; Subic; Davao; Laoag; Puerto Princesa; Iloilo; Kalibo; Zamboanga; General Santos; Bacolod; Laguindingan; Tacloban; Butuan; Legazpi; Dumaguete (Runway 27 only); Roxas; and Caticlan.
CAAP also announced that it is planning various airport runway lengthening and widening projects in Kalibo, Virac, Calbayog, Ozamiz, and Cotabato.
CAAP reported that flights at the NAIA posted an 80.2 percent On Time Performance (OTP)-handling and ground-handling performance.
By mid 2017, the CAAP said they will be putting in place the new Communication, Navigation, Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) technology.
CNS/ATM is a computer-based flight data processing system that will enable aircraft operators to meet their planned times of departure and arrival and adhere to their preferred flight profiles with minimum constraints and without compromising safety.
With the new technology, the Philippines would be able to monitor 80 percent of the Manila Flight Information Region, as assigned to the Philippines by the International Civil Aviation Organization.
CAAP will need 500 air traffic controllers (ATC) in the next five years when the satellite-based CNS/ATM system becomes operational.