Elevating air transportation in the country

Elevating air transportation in the country

Over the years, the Department of Transportation (DoTr) has played a crucial role in shaping the nation’s transportation landscape, with the goal of fostering economic development and improving the quality of life of Filipinos. With this in mind, the DoTr has been instrumental in the development of various infrastructure projects aimed at improving transportation across the country, including airports, seaports, and highways.

“Since its dawn up to now, the DoTr has been indefatigable in its thrust towards delivering a fast, reliable, safe, affordable, comfortable, and accessible transportation system across the country through the realization of the much-needed transport infrastructure projects, programs, and initiatives,” the department said in a statement on celebrating its 124th founding anniversary last year.

Air transportation plays a critical role in connecting people and businesses across the globe, and the Philippines is no exception. Recognizing the importance of air travel, the DoTr has been spearheading ambitious initiatives to revolutionize and elevate the airports and aviation infrastructure in the country.

Recently, the department has identified the enhancement of airport infrastructure as a priority, aiming to create world-class facilities that can accommodate the increasing demands of domestic and international air travel.

In fact, the Build Build Build flagship program of the Duterte administration, under the guidance of the DoTr, has completed 246 airport projects from 2016 to 2022.

Now, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. has stated that the infrastructure program initiated by the former administration should not only be continued but also expanded wherever possible.

In his first State of the Nation Address, the President shared his commitment to finish the development of projects and the continuation of transportation systems improvement. He also expressed confidence in building on the firm foundation established by his predecessor, aiming to “Build Better More.”

One of the recent developments in this infrastructure project is the opening of the new passenger terminal building (PTB) of the Clark International Airport. The PTB is expected to cater to around eight million passengers annually. The modernization and expansion of the airport will also support various sectors and industries, such as hospitality, food and beverage, agriculture, and manufacturing.

According to a report by the Philippine News Agency, the expansion of Clark International Airport is expected to create 150,000 new jobs, equating to 0.4% of the total employed population in the Philippines.

In addition, the DoTr is set to build a new international airport in Bulacan, known as the New Manila International Airport (NMIA) or the Bulacan International Airport.

The new airport will be built on 2,500 hectares of land in Bulakan, Bulacan, which is about 35 kilometers north of Manila. The project is estimated to cost around P735.6 billion ($14.8 billion) and is expected to be completed by 2027.

NMIA will have four runways and will be able to accommodate up to 100 million passengers annually, making it one of the largest airports in the world. It will also have a terminal building with a floor area of 700,000 square meters, which is more than four times the size of NAIA’s Terminal 3.

According to the DoTr, the project is expected to generate around 30,000 jobs during the construction phase and around 1 million jobs once the airport is operational.

This project aims to decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila, which has been operating beyond its capacity for years.

On the other hand, the DoTr is fast-tracking the privatization of NAIA. According to the DoTr, NAIA is the largest and most recognizable gateway of the Philippines to the world, but it badly needs a total makeover. The three NAIA Passenger Terminals 1, 2, and 3 need to be modernized, upgraded, and future-proofed.

The government’s move to privatize NAIA is a step in the right direction to create reliable transport infrastructure and fulfill the goal of turning the Philippines into a regional economic hub. NAIA has already accounted for 47.9 million passengers, and this number is only set to increase with the airport’s modernization.

The DoTr, with the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), are working closely with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to ensure the solicited NAIA Public-Private Partnership (PPP) is awarded to the most qualified concessionaire by 2024.

Furthermore, the department has been actively pursuing the development of regional airports to enhance connectivity and stimulate economic growth. In a report published by the Public-Private Partnership Center, the department plans to implement a public-private partnership (PPP) scheme for the development of regional airports, including the Puerto Princesa International Airport, as well as the airports of Bohol, Laguindingan, Iloilo, Kalibo, Bacolod, Tacloban, and Siargao.

The DoTr has been emphasizing the integration of cutting-edge technology and sustainable practices in airport development. The incorporation of smart systems for efficient operations, energy-efficient infrastructure, and eco-friendly design principles has been at the forefront of the department’s efforts.

One such example of the department’s implementation of modern technology is the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) system. This surveillance technology uses GPS to determine the precise location of aircraft, providing pilots and air traffic controllers with real-time information about the aircraft’s speed, altitude, and direction. This system has been instrumental in ensuring the safety of air travel in the Philippines.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has also approved the National Aviation Safety Plan (NASP) 2022-2025. This plan promotes the effective implementation of safety oversight systems and a coordinated approach to collaboration with other states and industry.

The CAAP, operating under the DoTr, governs Philippine aviation law and ensures compliance with international standards and local regulations, covering aircraft operation, safety procedures, pilot licensing, and passenger rights.

Transportation Secretary Jaime J. Bautista emphasized the need for more airports to improve accessibility and mobility within the country.

“Transforming our airports — through expansion, upgrade, and rehabilitation — is not only at the core of this administration’s thrust on infrastructure development but also crucial to connecting the country to the rest of the world,” said Mr. Bautista during the 2023 Aviation Summit. — Mhicole A. Moral