NAIA-3 to open before end of July

Domestic flights of Philippine Airlines (PAL), Cebu Pacific Air and Air Philippines will soon be departing from the Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) before July ends, airport officials said.

Only two percent of the airport remains to be completed, but airport officials said the terminal, built in 2002 and was mothballed for years due to legal obstacles, will be opened by the fourth week of July.

The airport will first be opened to domestic operations, while international flights will be accommodated in two to three months.

During the dry run conducted Tuesday the terminal’s security systems, called the four-level security screening, were put to a test.

The airport, according to officials, will be utilizing high-tech security systems that are the first ones to be installed in the country.

Aside from the usual x-rays and physical inspections, the NAIA Terminal 3 will utilize explosive detection systems and a machine called the CTX 9000 to sort out suspicious baggage that might contain contraband materials, chemicals, or explosives.

“May machine, may walk-through metal detector, may canine dogs tayo, then may CCTV cameras tayo na surveillance camera,” said NAIA General Manager Angel Atutubo.

Secretary Leandro Mendoza of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said Wednesday there is still no exact date yet when the mothballed terminal would be opened since airlines have yet to completely set up their network systems inside.

He only said during a forum on alternative fuels for public transport held at the Philippine Trade and Training Center that the new facility is almost complete.

“Whether July 22 or 23, NAIA 3 will be opened this July. It is really the ticketing booths and other equipment of the airlines that should be installed inside that are lacking. As soon as they have completed their transfer activities we can partially open NAIA 3,” he said.

“On the part of the government, we are ready to accommodate the passengers. Now, the airlines have started setting up their ticketing offices inside. We are just waiting for the private sector. It is up to the airlines to hurry up. But definitely, the opening won’t be later than July,” Mendoza said.

Projects for transport dev’t

Mendoza also said the Arroyo administration will continue to upgrade the facilities of existing airports all over the country. “There will be a continuing program for the upgrading of the airports. That will be announced by the President in her State of the Nation Address (SONA),” he said.

During the forum, President Arroyo announced that families of jeepney drivers and operators can avail of the P500 million funding that will be allocated through a so-called novel micro-financing program.

The amount is part of the P4 billion excess collections from the value added tax on oil. Arroyo said families of public transport drivers can avail an amount to start their own small business amid tough times.

To cushion the impact of the unabated increase of oil prices, the President had directed the DOTC last month to provide assistance to the land transport sector through technical assistance and the encouragement of the use of alternative fuels.

“This forum is in compliance to the said directive. Public utility vehicle (PUV) engines are being converted to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) fed engines,” said Mendoza.

A total of P1.32 billion is being set aside by the DOTC to fund various projects to support the President’s directive.

A study on the formulation of master plan for alternative fuel conversion will cost P15 million. A business plan for LPG and compressed natural gas (CNG) conversion will cost P2 million.

Another P2 million will be allotted for vehicle technology verification and testing project.

Other projects include a P750-million jeepney engine conversion program; P300-million CNG supply infrastructure; P250-million for engine conversion program; and P1.5-million information campaign. With a report from Cecille Lardizabal, ABS-CBN News

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