Editorial & Opinion


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Aircraft manufacturer Airbus says the Philippines will be one of eight aviation megacities by the year 2012, with the number of long-haul passengers exceeding 10,000 per day.

Anticipating higher growth in economies in the Asia Pacific region, Airbus believes that one of its key markets, the middle-income population, would be able to travel more.

Interaksyon.com reports that the number of domestic passengers rose by 9.6 percent to 20.56 million last year from 18.77 million in 2011.

International passengers, on the other hand, numbered 16.74 million in 2012—an increase of 6.8 percent from 2011’s 15.67 million.

The two leading airlines, Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific, are reported to have placed orders for 171 Airbus aircraft.

These are heartening words from Airbus, but its officers may just be oblivious to the various difficulties now faced by the Philippine aviation industry.

The Manila airport has, for instance, often been criticized for having a single runway that gets congested and causes delays. Fuel is wasted and passengers suffer inconvenience.

Terminal 1 of the NAIA has been branded as one of the worst airport terminals in the world by a Web site maintained by frequent travelers.

And then, earlier this month, a Cebu Pacific plane skidded off the Davao airport’s runway. No one was killed or injured, but the incident caused thousands of passengers to be stranded as the plane remained where it crash landed far longer than it should.  The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines has promised to release the results of its investigation early next week. We hope the government would not treat the errant parties with kid gloves.

Yet another plane from the same airline skidded to the right of the Manila runway a few days later amid heavy rain.

In the thick of all these challenges, an audit team composed of American and European experts is determining whether the Philippines could be removed from the European Union blacklist that prevents local airlines from having long-haul flights.

This week, too, Philippine representatives are holding a new round of talks with Australian officials for more flights between the two countries.

An airport gives a traveler a first – and lasting – impression of a country. It is good that the aircraft manufacturer considers the possibility of the Philippines being an aviation hub within the next ten years.  Such an eventuality would be good for long-term development in the Philippines; it would elevate our status in the eyes of the world’s investors and travelers many times over.

All these, however, could just be hot air if the national government does not set its priorities straight and act on plans to improve our gateways—now, and not at any other time in the future. (Manila Standard)

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