Philippine aviation authorities employ stricter measure against misuse of airport slots

The Ninoy Aquino International Airport ©
The Ninoy Aquino International Airport ©

IN a bid to maximize airline slots in the Philippines’ premier airport, the country’s aviation authorities said it will employ stricter measures against its misuse by airlines.

This was learned Wednesday (May 11) shorty after the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) signed a memorandum of agreement to make the Ninoy Aquino International Airport slots available for any airline.

Under the agreement, misuse of slots will be subjected to sanctions including the termination of operations or the forfeiture of acquired slots, an imposition of lower priority on the airline for future slot requests, and the imposition of fines by the CAB or CAAP.

According to an internet resource site Wikipedia, an airport slot is a right granted by an airport owner which allows the slot holder to schedule a landing or departure during a specific time period. Landing slots are allocated in accordance with guidelines set down by the IATA’s Worldwide Airport Slots Group.

In a statement, CAB Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla said the holding of slots that an airline does not intend to operate, the intentional operation of a flight at a significantly different time from its approved schedule, and the operation of flights without a slot are considered misuses of an allocated airline slot.

Arcilla said the agreement basically requires airlines to utilize their slot or face the risk of losing it.  He noted that the demand for a slot to fly at the NAIA has been increasing.

“We want to make sure that slots are available for any airline which intends to use the airport,” Arcilla said, adding that in 2015, a daily average of 684 flight movements has been recorded at NAIA out of the available 880 allocations.

CAAP Director General William Hotchkiss III ©
CAAP Director General William Hotchkiss III

CAAP Director General William Hotchkiss III, for his part, said stricter and more detailed guidelines on slot usage will also guarantee smoother airport operations.

“We are also able to address the concern of flight delay by means of this agreement as we dedicate each and every slot to registered flights. Removing those not cleared to fly allows us to follow a day’s official schedule to the second,” Hotchkiss said.

The agreement, it said, also covers the procedure which airlines have to observe in registering for a slot at the NAIA.

In February this year, the airlines and the three government agencies have agreed to a new measure that will shape up and address the issue of flight delays. They discussed about flights to be retimed to address delays as it involves a more efficient implementation of the current policy on flight movements per hour at the NAIA with the help of the third party slot coordinator – the Airport Coordination Australia.

Meantime, aviation officials said that after gaining approval of a desired schedule from the Airport Coordination Australia, airlines must gain clearance from the MIAA and the CAAP for terminal and runway clearance, respectively.

It added that authorization from the three agencies is required before airlines file their application to operate with the CAB.

Benjie Vergara
A veteran reporter covering the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. He is currently writing for Manila Times, the Philippines' oldest newspaper.

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