Sen. Gatchalian welcomes development of Sangley Airport

Published June 27, 2019, 8:41 PM

by Martin Sadongdong & Antonio Colina

By Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday welcomed the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) efforts to expedite the upgrading of the facilities to the Danilo Atienza Air Base on Sangley Airport.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Gatchalian, however, urged the DOTr to exercise caution in relocating commercial airlines to the new airport terminal once it is operational and listen to the issues being raised by the country’s flag carrier, Philippine Airlines (PAL), and other local airlines.

“The plan of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade to fast track the construction of the Sangley airport is a welcome development considering that this has long been overdue,” Gatchalian said in a statement.

“Upon completion of the airport, general aviation should be transferred there as soon as possible – all private planes and helicopters should operate in Sangley to help decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA),” he said.

Gatchalian said the DOTR should conduct a thorough study on the possible effect of transferring both domestic and international flights to Sangley Airport.

“That being said, the DOTr should be careful in moving commercial airlines to Sangley,” he said.

“I share the reservations of PAL and AirAsia in transferring their commercial flights to Sangley, especially without a detailed study on the impact of such a transfer on both domestic and international air passengers,” the senator stressed.

“Kailangan muna ng masusing pag-aaral bago gumawa ng malawakang paglipat dahil baka mahirapan ang ating mga pasahero, lalo na ‘yong mga may hinahabol na transfer flights sa ibang terminals ng NAIA (We need to thoroughly study the implications before conducting a massive transfer of these flights because this might inconvenience our passengers, especially those who are chasing transfer flights in other NAIA terminals),” Gatchalian said.

Officials of PAL and Philippines Air Asia Inc. (AirAsia) have said they will carefully study transferring their flights to Sangley in support of the government’s moves to decongest NAIA.

Only Cebu Pacific is able to fully commit to transferring commercial flights in Sangley saying they are ready to comply once the infrastructure is in place.

Tugade earlier vowed to finish construction of Sangley Airport by September, or two months ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadline of November.

Earlier this June, Duterte expressed his displeasure at the constant flight delays and cancellations that hit NAIA this June and hinted at a “revamp” among NAIA officials.