President Rodrigo Duterte expressed confidence that Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade would meet the November deadline for the start of operations at Sangley Airport in Cavite.
“Art is a worker. He has built beautiful airports all around the country. Arthur was a valedictorian at the College of Law. Magaling talaga ’yan [He’s really outstanding]. He will do it with your [Philippine Navy’s] help,” Duterte said in his speech at the 121st Philippine Navy founding anniversary celebration at Sangley Point, following his inspection of the progress of construction at Sangley Airport on June 17.
Aboard a coaster, the President, together with Tugade, inspected the completed asphalt overlay of the runway, and the ongoing construction of the Passenger Terminal Building, the improved drainage system, and the hangars.
Tugade, in response, said he is thankful for the President’s trust in him and will not disappoint him or the air-riding passengers. “Oras na matapos ang pagtatayo ng mga dagdag na pasilidad dito sa Sangley, makakatulong ito sa pagde-decongest ng NAIA [Once construction of additional facilities at Sangley is completed, it will help to decongest NAIA].”
“Ang sabi natin ay 24/7, hindi 24/6 o ano pa man. Sisiguraduhin nating matatapos natin on time o mas maaga pa sa deadline [We said 24/7, not 24/6 or anything less. We’ll make sure to finish on time or even before deadline],” he added.
Duterte in a Cabinet meeting on June 11 ordered the immediate operation of Sangley Airport by November following his surprise visit to NAIA or the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on June 10 amid reports of flight delays and cancellations.
In response, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) ordered a 24/7 schedule for the construction at Sangley. Tugade, in a meeting with aviation and military officials before the June 17 inspection, also told Shann Chan, managing director of project contractor Unimasters Conglomeration, Inc., to make good on their word to finish all construction before the November deadline.
In December 2017 Unimasters won the contract to rehabilitate and develop Sangley airport with a bid of P486.107 million.
Construction at Sangley Airport started last year, and now has a 48.68% completion rate. The asphalt overlay of the runway was finished in February this year, while the passenger terminal building is 18% complete, the drainage 71.6%, and the hangars 37%, DOTr said.
DOTr undersecretary for aviation and airports Capt. Manuel Antonio Tamayo in December last year said the department expects to complete the project by the third quarter of 2019.
Meanwhile, DOTr said that in a meeting on June 13, airlines pledged full support to utilizing Sangley Airport for non-commercial operations once operations start.
To this end, airline companies will sign a pledge of commitment and support on June 24, 2019 to manifest their cooperation with the government’s move to address aviation concerns holistically.
The meeting was attended by airline officials Michael Tan of Philippine Airlines, Lance Gokongwei of Cebu Pacific, and Capt. Dexter Comendador of AirAsia.
DOTr said airlines present during the meeting agreed to use Sangley Airport for general aviation, freight turboprop operations, and commercial turboprop operations as soon as the infrastructure is in place.
Additionally, general aviation users will be notified to relocate fully to Clark International Airport in Pampanga and Sangley Airport in a year’s time to help decongest NAIA. General aviation refers to the operation of a civil aircraft other than commercial air transport or aerial work.
Tugade said the relocation will free up space in the four terminals of NAIA to allow for improvements and additions in the country’s main gateway.