Sangley Airport eyed as NAIA's 'third runway'

Posted at 07/13/14 4:42 PM

MANILA -- The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which proposed Sangley Point in Cavite as a possible site of a new international airport, has also proposed that this new airport operate under an integrated airspace with Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) until 2025.

“JICA’s recommendation means that, in effect, the new Sangley airport will be NAIA’s ‘third runway’ until greater expansion can be made in the long-term," Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) Secretary Jun Abaya said in a statement released on Sunday.

"Meanwhile, upgrading Sangley’s existing airport may be done faster and at a lower cost, since initial reclamation will be needed for only one to two runways, instead of three to four. This will significantly bring down JICA’s initial ballpark estimate of $ 10 billion to build a four-runway airport in Sangley,” Abaya added.

The options for 2025 and beyond would be to close NAIA once Sangley is expanded into a four-runway airport, or to retain this dual-airport system and possibly develop Sangley into a two- to three-runway airport.

The DOTC and JICA are also exploring options for the preparation of a feasibility study on this roadmap, which comes after the Japanese agency identified eight potential sites in 2011 and then rated their suitability.

The eight sites originally considered were: Angat-Pandi-Bustos; Obando; North Manila Bay; Central Manila Bay; Sangley Point; San Nicholas Shoals; West Laguna Lake; and Rizal-Talim Island.

JICA then ranked each site based on criteria such as catchment area, navigation risk, natural hazard risk, and accessibility.

Last month, JICA presented the results of its analysis to Abaya and Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Jose Angel Honrado, which showed that Sangley Point ranked first, followed by West Laguna Lake at second, and Central Manila Bay third.

The transport agency’s next step is to prepare a feasibility study for the Sangley proposal for completion in 2015.

In the statement, Abaya clarified that the DOTC will still have to finalize its overall airport strategy and present this to President Benigno Aquino III.

In the meantime, the transportation department is still open to other proposals, such as the recently reported plans of the San Miguel Corporation (SMC) group.

“We are pursuing JICA’s recommendations since its study has been officially authorized by the DOTC for several years. However, we are still open to other proposals such as SMC’s, but they will have to be submitted to us. Until now, we are getting most of our information on the SMC proposal from news reports and business groups with whom the plans have been shared,” Abaya said.

Abaya added that as proposals and studies are still being finalized, the DOTC will continue upgrading NAIA and encourage the growth of Clark International Airport in Pampanga.