MCIAA prepares for airside emergencies with upcoming additional runway

WITH the continuing increase in air traffic at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA), authorities are now making provisions for future airside contingencies through the construction of an additional runway to be used in the event of an emergency that renders the main runway unusable, such as aircraft accidents or maintenance work.

“In the past, we have often experienced closures of our single runway due to repair, maintenance, inspections or aircraft accidents. We want to avoid these kinds of operational disruptions and inconvenience to our passengers in the future, and that is why we are eager to construct this additional runway,” said Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) general manager Steve Dicdican.

According to Dicdican, the construction of this proposed additional runway for emergencies is “timely” as the average hourly traffic at MCIA is projected to increase to 43 air traffic movements by 2032.

“Aircraft emergencies can happen at any time, as we experienced in Cebu and Manila. We also have to factor in the runway maintenance and repairs that need to be conducted. Given the volume of air traffic that MCIA has and its impact on our community and economy, we need to ensure that airport operations will not be disrupted,” he said.

Not an “independent second runway”

Dicdican clarified that this runway is different from the fully independent parallel runway proposed by the GMR Megawide Consortium which will increase airside capacities of the MCIA in the future. This independent parallel runway is part of GMR Megawide’s proposed 50-year masterplan for the airport which has been granted Original Proponent Status by the MCIAA and is now awaiting the National Economic and Development Authority’s approval.

“The GMR Megawide proposal includes the fully independent parallel runway, which is to be located in the current Mactan Economic Zone area. Our runway project complements their proposal,” Dicdican explained.

The additional runway project of MCIAA is expected to be completed by 2022 while the independent runway proposed by GMR Megawide is expected to be completed by 2032.

“We need both projects. We need the proposed independent runway if we are to have a complete solution to the runway congestion that has plagued busy airports. However, we do not want to wait until 2032 or until our single runway’s capacity threshold is reached before we do something to protect and improve our runway operations,” said Dicdican.

“Our current runway project is not the complete solution, but the interim solution that ensures uninterrupted operations and fractional operational efficiency; at least enough to tide us over until 2032. Past 2032, we must already have an operational independent runway, which means that the building of this independent runway must commence by next year at the latest. Cebu is growing at a rapid pace, and MCIA as the main gateway must be able to properly prepare for this growth. The time to act for future airport contingencies, whether aircraft emergencies or capacity building, is now,” he said. (PR)