P2-billion runway ‘ready’ by third quarter of 2023

THE Mactan-Cebu International Airport’s (MCIA) second runway is expected to be operational by the third quarter of 2023 and is seen to increase movement at the airport, an official said.

Julius Neri Jr., general manager of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA), said the parallel runway is an important project as they target to increase the airport’s capacity by 25 percent in terms of plane movement per hour.

He noted that before the coronavirus disease pandemic, the MCIA was almost at full capacity.

Neri said in an interview on Friday, November 25, 2022, that the second runway will also serve as an emergency runway in the event of any unfavorable incident, citing the Korean Air plane that overshot the runway last month.

The second runway, which costs “slightly over P2 billion” to construct, will be the first parallel commercial runway in the Philippines, according to Neri.

“With two runways, if something happens to one runway, we can use the other one,” he said, adding that the project will help ensure the MCIA can continue to operate if an aircraft is stalled on either of the two runways.

“But if an incident happens and the plane stops in between both runways, that’s a different story since both runways may not be usable,” he said.

Neri said the runways will operate as co-dependent runways and cannot be used simultaneously since they are too close to each other.

What the MCIAA plans to do is to dedicate one of the runways to aircraft taking off while the other will be used for landing.

He said everything will require consultations with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and MCIAA’s foreign consultants.

Construction of the second runway began in 2020 in anticipation of the projected increase in the average hourly traffic at MCIA to 43 air traffic movements by 2032.

The civil works on the runway are expected to be completed by Jan. 31, 2023. It will take another month to complete the installation of electrical requirements.

What will take time, Neri said, is getting the approval of government regulators to operate the runway, which will entail an aeronautical survey.

The second runway is just one of the measures that will help prevent disruptions in airport operations, the manager said. The MCIAA will also need equipment that can remove damaged aircraft as quickly as possible.

When the Korean Air plane overshot the runway last Oct. 23, several flights were canceled since the runway could not be used for more than 24 hours. Airport operations were able to resume from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 25, and was fully operational four days after the incident.

Fortunately, Neri said, the aircraft stopped far enough from the edge of the 3.3-kilometer runway, which allowed them to use a 2.7-kilometer stretch to resume airport operations. (MKG)