Transport execs back airport dev’t, better passenger protection

MANILA Airport authorities on Wednesday threw their support behind the passage of bills that would rationalize the development of airports and strengthen airline passenger protection, in the light of the recent runway mishap that paralyzed operations at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

During the House of Representatives transportation committee hearing on the NAIA runway mess, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Director General Jim Sydiongco supported the proposals to establish a Philippine Airport Development Corp. (PADC) and to develop a Philippine Transportation Safety Board.

"We fully support the draft being made in Congress on the creation of (an) Airport Development Corp., as well as the development of the Philippine Transportation Safety Board. Both laws would help us rationalize the development of our airports," Sydiongco said.

"We know for a fact that our airports are overtaken by events, overtaken by growth, (and) overcapacity. Naturally, if we did not anticipate this growth and you introduce larger aircraft, the impact or the consequences are much, much bigger," he added.

Under House Bill No. 7306, the PADC shall be the airport authority tasked to ensure and accelerate development of air transport facilities and services. The proposed body is envisioned to take over CAAP regulatory duties.

The PADC shall undertake and oversee the planning, maintenance, operation, and improvement of all airports.

Under House Bill 5042, the Philippine Transportation Safety Board shall be an independent and non-regulatory agency primarily tasked to conduct investigations on air, overland and maritime transportation accidents; and determine the facts, conditions, circumstances and causes of accident.

Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Ed Monreal urged Congress to strengthen the Air Passenger Bill of Rights.

"Moving forward, kailangan repasuhin yung Air Passenger Bill of Rights. Rebisahin, tingnan kung ano pa dapat palakasin para yung rights ng mga pasahero ay maprotektahan (Moving forward, there is a need to review the Air Passenger Bill of Rights. Study and revise what need to be strengthened so that the right of passengers will be better protected)," Monreal said.

Monreal also said it is high time to construct a new airport with at least two parallel runways to prevent a repeat of the runway mess.

Meanwhile, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Undersecretary for Airports and Aviation Manuel Antonio Tamayo cited the need to fast-track the construction of additional airports

"We, on our part, will expedite the airport projects so that we can more or less have a better gateway without limitations as far as runways are concerned, or obstructions are concerned, or connectivity is concerned," Tamayo said.

On Aug. 16, Xiamen Air Flight MF8667 veered off NAIA's main runway during landing at about 11:55 p.m., losing its landing gear and left engine in the process.

It took aviation authorities 36 hours before the stalled Boeing 737-800 was removed from the international runway, which resulted in the cancellation of hundreds of flights, leaving tens of thousands of passengers, including hundreds of overseas Filipino workers, stranded for days. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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