Monday, 10 October 2011

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1. DOTC eyes NAIA transfer to Clark

The government is eyeing the transfer of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) from Metro Manila to Clark, Pampanga, Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas II told a Senate hearing yesterday.

Roxas said the 440-hectare NAIA, if privatized, would raise up to $2.5 billion in revenue for the government.

“And that in effect will pave the way for the transfer of the airport to Clark,” he told the Senate committee on finance.

“But the key to the transfer is the high speed rail because without that, it really becomes very inconvenient,” said Roxas.

The issue cropped up during the hearing when Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile asked for the latest updates on the government’s North Rail project with China.

At that point, Enrile raised the possibility of transferring the international airport to Clark once the project becomes successful.

“It will be beneficial to the country because it will link Central Luzon, specially Clark, with Metro Manila. We can transfer the international airport to Clark and leave the present international airport for further development,” Enrile said.

Meanwhile, members of the Airline Operators Council (AOC) at the NAIA said they would transfer to Clark or the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) if the facilities and the transportation are well in place.

“If the terminals and the high speed transportation like the speed train from Manila to Clark are in place, there is no doubt we will transfer,” AOC chair Ma. Lourdes San Juan said.

It had been reported earlier that the NAIA is already congested and has reached its “critical level.”

Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) director general Ramon Gutierrez said that to solve the aircraft congestion at the NAIA, operations here should be closed and eventually transferred to the DMIA.

Roxas lauded

Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) president and chief executive officer Victor Jose Luciano lauded Roxas’ support for the Ramos-era plan to transfer the country’s main international airport from Manila to Clark.

Luciano made the statement as he bared plans of an investor to construct more hangars that could accommodate wide-bodied aircraft at the DMIA complex.

He, however, declined to give details about the project pending the finalization of contracts.

In April 1994, former president Ramos signed Executive Order No. 174 designating the Clark airport, later named after former president Diosdado Macapagal, as the “future site of the country’s premiere international airport.”

EO 174 cited the International Air Transportation Association’s forecast at that time “that more than 376 million enplanements (51.1 percent of world total) will be in the Asia-Pacific by the year 2010, a fourfold increase from 1990.”

The executive order also noted that in other Asian countries, airport expansion were outside major cities “to alleviate congestion in airspace, runways and terminals, and to keep pace with rapid economic development.”

It also stressed the need of “relieving Metro Manila of further increase in migration, congestion, pollution, traffic and other urban ills.”

Luciano said that the CIAC “is prepared to assume fully the requirements of a full fledged international airport.”

“The commitment of President Aquino and Secretary Roxas, which they have now made public, is expected to finally remove any hesitation on the part of potential investors to come to the DMIA with solid optimism,” he said, amid plans to construct a world-class passenger terminal on top of the existing terminal at the 2,500-hectare aviation complex.

NAIA expansion

Meantime, while the transfer of the NAIA from Manila to Clark is being studied, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) will conduct a feasibility study on the possible expansion of the NAIA complex in Pasay City in view of the recent move of President Aquino authorizing the transfer of the huge Nayong Pilipino property to the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) for the extension of airport and cargo facilities.

Roxas said that the issuance of Executive Order No. 58 was just part of the game plan towards the development of the NAIA, and the overall five-year transport infrastructure master plan being drawn up by the DOTC worth some P490 billion.

“The EO is a major part of the game plan to build a world class transportation infrastructure for land, air and sea that would ensure safe and convenient travel for all Filipinos,” Roxas said.

In Executive Order No. 58, the President said the 22.3-hectare land of the Nayong Pilipino Foundation Inc. (NPF) will be used for the expansion of the NAIA Terminal 2.

2. PAL: Unsafe flights claim part of ‘black propaganda’

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines reassured passengers on Sunday evening of the safety of its flights as it belied insinuations that overworked staff and untrained personnel are endangering its operations since it spun off three of its non-core businesses last Oct. 1.

In a note on its Facebook account, PAL dismissed as "black propaganda" allegations that it said came from some former PAL employees. It said it expects more black propaganda to come.

“We assure our passengers that all aircraft utilized in our flights are released only after thorough assessment and safety checks," PAL president and COO Jaime Bautista said in the Facebook note.

Over the weekend, Gerry Rivera, head of the PAL Employees Association (PALEA), called on the Tourism Congress for an investigation of passenger safety issues at PAL.

“We ask the Tourism Congress to take up the cudgels for the riding public by inquiring about safety and service concerns at PAL given that overworked and untrained replacement workers are now servicing passengers. If the Tourism Congress is anxious about the impact of the labor dispute on the influx of tourists, then it should also be worried about any possible accidents due to unsafe work practices by contractual workers," he said.

PALEA cited news reports that two Danish tourists backed out of a PAL flight to Cebu over safety concerns. It said the two reportedly questioned PAL’s replacement workers at the check-in counter including a supervisor about safety issues but were left unsatisfied with the answers.

PAL is working to normalize its operations after spinning off three non-core businesses, which its then ground crew union had claimed would render 2,600 workers jobless.

Over the weekend, it claimed it had normalized its international flights.

More "disinformation" expected

Bautista said they expect "disinformation" to escalate especially since some disgruntled employees are getting "desperate by the day."

“We hope our passengers will carefully discern fact from the fiction being peddled by those out to destroy the flag carrier’s good name and reputation," he said.

He cited as one example of "black propaganda" the allegations that "overworked" PAL staff and untrained personnel were compromising airline safety.

“Former PAL ground workers are so used to working less than their 7.5-hour daily shift for five days, such that they consider our volunteers’ eight-hour shifts, six days a week as ‘overwork,'" he said.

“Even claims that an airstep bumped and caused damage to one of PAL’s Airbus A340s is a fabrication concocted by (PAL Employees' Association president Gerry) Rivera and his cohorts. All our aircraft undergo regular checks and no such damage has been found by PAL’s Aircraft Engineering Department and Lufthansa Technik, PAL’s maintenance provider," he added.

Bautista reiterated that safety is the cornerstone of PAL’s operations, adding the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has a surveillance inspection team especially assigned to PAL.

He said all PAL aircraft are maintained by Lufthansa Technik Philippines and other reputable maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) companies abroad.

All safety regulations are likewise complied with particularly those enforced by CAAP, US Federal Aviation Administration and US Transport Security Administration, as well as regular safety checks under the stringent IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA), he said.

PAL is the only IOSA-certified Philippine carrier, he added.

“Apart from strict security checks, PAL flights also undergo a final safety check by our highly-trained and experienced pilots. A PAL plane will not take off until pilots are fully satisfied with the aircraft's airworthiness and only after they have determined the safe load of passengers and cargo," he added.
Bautista said PAL’s current corps of admin volunteers, former union members who joined the service providers and new hires all underwent proper training and certification prior to handling official ground duties.

3.  Philippines top court wants to review ruling on Philippine Airlines

Manila: The Supreme Court called for a review of its September ruling which imposed on the Philippine Airlines, the country's flag-carrier, to reinstate 1,400 flight attendants who were retrenched for holding a strike in 1998.
"The court en banc further resolved to recall the resolution dated September 7, issued by the (Supreme Court's) second division in the case. The court further resolved to re-raffle the case to a new member-in-charge," said the Supreme Court's ruling dated October 4, but was released only on Monday (October 10).
In response, leaders and members of the Flight Attendants' and Stewards' Association of the Philippines (FASAP) said the High Court's recent ruling was ‘seriously disturbing".
FASAP has been calling for the implementation of the Supreme Court's pro-FASAP rulings this year and in 2008.

n its September 7, 2011 ruling, the Apex Court dismissed two motions for reconsideration filed by PAL in 2008, and said the airline company did not observe proper procedure when it retrenched 1,400 flight attendants in 1998.
"Many of these employees have since then moved on, but the arbitrariness and illegality of PAL's actions have yet to be rectified..This case has dragged on for so long and we are now more than duty-bound to finally put an end to the illegality that took place," the September 7 ruling said.
Last July 2008, the Supreme Court upheld FASAP and ordered the reinstatement with full back wages of 1,400 flight attendants who were retrenched during a pilots' strike.

By Barbara Mae Dacanay, Bureau Chief Manila: The Supreme Court called for a review of its September ruling which imposed on the Philippine Airlines, the country's flag-carrier, to reinstate 1400 flight attendants who were retrenched for holding a ...
Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines - The ongoing rift between the management of the Philippine Airlines (PAL) and its labor union PAL Employees Association (PALEA) has affected the tuna and hotel industries in Mindanao, the Tourism Congress (TC) said. ...
Manila Bulletin
We hope we could reach an agreement soon so that our customer, Philippine Airlines and its millions of passengers, can benefit from their expertise,” Sepulveda said. He explained that once an agreement has been reached, JASL will send a team of...
Wall Street Journal
By CRIS LARANO MANILA–A surprise work stoppage at the height of a typhoon Tuesday continued to hobble the operations of Philippine Airlines through Wednesday, and officials of the country's largest airline by fleet expect it may possibly result in a...

Aviation NEWS By
Neha Jain
Aviation NEWS Reporter



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