No third runway for NAIA
- Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star) - October 29, 2014 - 12:00am

It is just as well that Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) director general William Hotchkiss III has come clean about hopes for a third runway at NAIA. Hotchkiss said the construction of a third runway at Manila’s main international airport will definitely not be possible within the remaining years of the Aquino administration. Here is one honest official who will not encourage false hopes and for good reason.

According to Hotchkiss, the proposal for the third runway is currently on hold and is going through further studies. The proposed 2.1-kilometer parallel runway would be built south of the existing primary runway 06/24 within the 400-hectare NAIA complex in Pasay City.

The construction of a parallel runway at NAIA is seen to boost the airport’s capacity to 60 aircraft movements per hour from 40 at present. It was seen as a solution to NAIA’s congestion problem until a new airport is constructed at Sangley which could take a minimum of five or even 10 years to complete from word go.

According to Hotchkiss, the new runway would affect the existing radar system of the airport as well as the adjacent Circumferential Road 5 (C5) extension. NAIA has two intersecting runways namely the primary runway 06/24 and the secondary runway 13/31. CAAP had earlier said airlines are losing at least P7 billion a year in fuel and in engine maintenance costs because of the air traffic congestion in NAIA.

The 3rd runway, as envisioned by DOTC would be located along the edge of the NAIA property near the Merville-Moonwalk -Multinational Subdivision area. Initial design by CAAP shows that the prospective 3rd runway will be parallel to the main NAIA runway known as 06/24.

But an expert said that due to the distance restriction of safe areas and larger ROW problems, the runway would slack back further from SLEX and more to the Las Piñas-Parañaque area. It would be 2,100 meters long, so 1,300 meters shorter than the main runway. This expert said that based on a Google location of this runway, it looks like it is around 400 meters away from RW 06/24. The expert said “I doubt if this runway can be used for landing, specially at night as it cannot be fully instrument rated.”

The expert continues with his observation: “ICAO recommends that for two parallel runways to operate simultaneously, they must have a lateral separation of 2000 meters. For runways not operating simultaneous flights, lateral separation should be a minimum of 800 meters. These lateral separation distances are required measurement so that two aircrafts in motion won’t collide whether on air or on ground. The third runway as contemplated will have a lateral distance with the main of just roughly 400 meters.”

DOTC claims that the 3rd runway would increase the runway capacity of NAIA by six movements an hour. NAIA runway capacity is now presently held at 40 movements an hour or an average of 1.5 minutes per movement.

The expert explains that “All aircraft desiring to use the 3rd runway will have to cross RW 06/24. An aircraft, specially a large jet, would need three to four minutes to cross to the third runway after entering the active areas from the terminals. So if the 3rd runway will have a capacity of six movements an hour, the six crossing will use from 18- 24 minutes also of RW 06/24 as they cross it.

“So in every hour, RW 06/24 capacity will be reduced between 36-42 minutes per hour for its own traffic. Since the slot movements are now held to 1.5 minutes per movement, RW 06 24 capacity availability is reduced to between 24 -28 against its present slot capacity of 40 per hour. As you can see, the 3rd runway will add six movements an hour only to lose between 12-16 movements on the other runways. What arithmetic!

“The location of the third runway also heads straight to the C 5 downward ramp. DOTC claims they can realign this ramp. The DMCI condos are also within the restricted take-off path of the aircraft but DOTC says if such is the case, they will move the runway more downwards to the southwest and most probably end up near the Sto. Nino area in Paranaque.

“One major concern is that aircraft maneuvering on ground within the taxiways and the runways would be too close to the path of landing aircraft and presents a risk. When the construction phase starts, construction equipment will be too close to maneuvering aircraft and could collide with a ground vehicle like what happened to the TOTAL executive jet in Moscow.”

The idea for a third runway was broached to P-Noy by Ramon Ang. I asked him again if the specifications of CAAP are similar to or a take off from what he gave the President. He responded that he doesn’t know what specs CAAP is using, but the one he gave is the same as the San Francisco airport actual design which the FAA approved.

Actually, I am told the existing cross runway design of NAIA is similar to a number of other airports abroad like New York’s La Guardia. But the other airports are able to do double the number of movements NAIA is now doing because of state of the art navigational system. Maybe once the new CNS/ATM (Communication, Navigation, Surveillance and Air Traffic Management) system is in place, they can alleviate the congestion by allowing for closer intervals of landings and take offs.

In the meantime, there is need for CAAP to speed up modernizing other major airports in the country. I just got a text message from an official of the American Chamber who complained about the Laguindingan Airport in Cagayan de Oro.

“I am now at the new Languindingan Aiport as the sun is setting and my PAL flight is cancelled by ‘sunset provision.’ This is a decent new small terminal and the PAF has taken control of the old CDO airport. The PAL airport manager says this is the second cancellation this month of this 415 PAL flight.”

The Amcham official reports that an influential CDO resident told him the entire of CDO was up in arms about this airport because of the absence of  air navigation instruments for inclement weather and night flying and no runway lights. If it’s only cloudy and slightly raining, the pilots refuse to land, with the revenue loss for so many businesses running in the millions. They have renamed it Hindi Malandingan Airport.

The Amcham official was told that the Chamber of Commerce and anyone who was “influential” in CDO wrote to and tried to get thru to the President, all to no avail. They feel it was a STUPID decision to transfer from the old airport (which has the equipment) when this airport is so poorly equipped. So, for some air travelers it is sometimes not so much fun in the Philippines.

I don’t know what happened because just last week, reported that “At 5:45 p.m. after sunset on October 23, 2014, PAL Express Flight PR 2526 took off at Laguindingan Airport bound for Manila after a long delay.”

Maybe, they are still testing it. Oh well…


 I am glad to know that the MMDA chairman has come out in support of Uber. Chairman Tolentino is one of the rare bureaucrats ready to accept disruptive technology towards the solution of our problems. Mabuhay ka chairman Tolentino!

I am not surprised that Über got into trouble here, as it did in other cities abroad. Of course the taxi guys will complain. But the time has come to give the taxi industry a tech based work over.

The problems are those lawyers/ bureaucrats at LTFRB whose minds are devoid of new ideas. They are married to our ancient regulatory system for public transportation, which explains why that is such a mess.

True, there is a time gap before our laws adopt tech breakthroughs. It is hoped that our officials adopt chairman Tolentino’s open mind to tech solutions like Uber, if only to make transport in our metro area more reliable, safe and civilized. 

The math of age and beauty

Andy’s wife, refusing to give in to the looks of growing old, goes out and buys a new line of expensive cosmetics guaranteed to make her look years younger.

After a lengthy sitting before the mirror applying the “miracle” products, she asks her husband – “Darling, honestly, if you didn’t know me, what age would you say I am?”

Looking over her carefully, Andy replied...

“Judging from your skin, 20; your hair, 18; and your figure, 25.”

“Oh, you flatterer!” she gushed. Just as she was about to tell Andy his reward, he stops her by saying: “WHOA, hold on there sweety…I haven’t added them up yet!”

Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is Follow him on Twitter @boochanco

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