By Raissa Robles
The takeoff and landing of planes at the runways of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport complex is now “going beyond safe limits” at times, a high government official casually told me during an interview on another topic.
I was shocked when the official said that. But at that time last month, I did not realize the gravity of the situation. That is, until I saw a news item in today’s Philippine Daily Inquirer, quoting Transport Secretary Jose de Jesus as saying that private planes and trainer planes may be relocated to Sangley Point, Cavite, to ease air traffic congestion.
The report said that:
Congestion on Naia’s runways has led to constant flight delays of as long as 80 minutes, usually with planeloads of passengers sitting idle on the tarmac at the country’s premier international airport.
NAIA has only two runways – the longer one (3,737 m) for planes as large as A380 and a secondary runway (2,258 m), mainly for local flights.
Waiting for your plane? That’s still tolerable. What isn’t tolerable are the following frightening statistics I was told by the official. I can’t say by who, but it’s not Secretary De Jesus nor anybody inside the presidential palace.
The government official told me that during peak hours:
- Takeoffs and landings are less than one minute apart.
- There are even times that there are 36 landings per hour – or landings less than two minutes apart.
- And even as many as 45 landings per hour – or one landing every 80 seconds.
It boggles the mind how our air traffic controllers are able to prevent disasters on a daily basis. I know we have some of the best air traffic controllers in the world. But they are overworked. I hope the government looks into this problem with utmost urgency.
Here is Inquirer’s full report – Private hangars, flight schools may be transferred to Cavite