Local airlines on Wednesday agreed to review their flight operations to decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and support the development of Sangley Airport in Cavite province and other gateways in the country.
Heads of local carriers signed a pledge of commitment in which they vowed to review the flight operations of their respective airline companies to rationalize flight numbers, aircraft movement and rotation and the use of slots and flying rights to improve on-time performance.
Signatories also committed to support the development of mechanisms of discipline in the event of flight aberrations within their control and cooperate with government and other regulatory agencies that have the authority to determine actionable or punishable occurrences.
The signatories included Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Cebu Air president and chief executive Lance Gokongwei, Air Asia president and chief executive Dexter Comendador, Philippine Airlines officer-in-charge Vivienne Tan, PAL Express president Bonifacio Sam and CebGo vice president for corporate affairs Paterno Mantaring Jr. who attended on behalf of CebGo president and chief executive Alexander Lao.
Signatories pledged to support the development and promotion of other gateways especially Sangley Airport for viable operations to decongest Naia.
The initiative was in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to decongest the country’s main gateway and enhance the comfort and convenience of air passengers.
The commitment aims to address the growing demands for air travel in the Philippines, particularly at Naia. Between 2016 and 2018, Naia’s annual passenger traffic increased from 36.5 million to 45 million, or 130 percent of its design capacity.
Number of flights rose 5.75 percent, resulting in an escalated utilization of airport slots per hour by 22.2 percent, or from 36 to 44.
“We thank Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, AirAsia, PAL Express and CebGo for uniting in this goal of providing comfort to the Filipino people. This initiative is a testament to the many ways the government and private sector can work together to solve problems,” Tugade said
“However, I am expecting that this commitment will not just remain a piece of paper, but will be implemented effectively and felt immediately by our passengers,” he said.
Tugade expects to start commercial operations at Sangley Airport by November this year.
Gokongwei said his company was supporting the goal of the government and the airline sector to make the air travel convenient to all Filipinos.
“We accept responsibility and accountability to provide positive and collaborative solution,” he said.
Comendador said there was a need for a balance between safety and efficiency for full on-time performance. “Too much of one will mean failure of the other. It is imperative that we not only do the right things, but we should also do things right,” he said.
Tan, who replaced Jaime Bautista at PAL, cited the need to support each and everyone, not just in air transportation, but the rest of the nation. “I hope that PAL will be part of the private entity that can help the government, including the President, in putting forward the Philippines and make a very good future ahead of us,” Tan said.