20 of the country’s 42 airports are capable of handling evening flights, said the Department of Transportation (DOTr). According to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, the DOTr is aiming for all airports in the country to soon have night-rated capacities to better serve the traveling public.
“Mahalaga ang night-rated capacity kasi kapag wala nito kapag sunset, yung airport ay di mo na magagamit.Ginagawa natin ang night-rated capacity sa mga commercially operational airports ngayon. (Night-rated capacity is important because without this, our airports can no longer be used after sunset. We are aiming for commercially operational airports in the country today to have night-rated capacities),” Tugade said during a press briefing on Wednesday.
According to Tugade, the DOTr is planning to have all the country’s airports equipped to handle nighttime flights by the end of President Duterte’s administration in 2022.
In 2017, four of the country’s airports gained night-rating. These were Legazpi, Roxas, Dumaguete, and Caticlan.
The DOTr reports that Tuguegarao Airport has recently been night-rated. Within the year, the airports in Naga, Dipolog, Cotabato, and Cauayan are also targeted to be night-rated.
The Department of Budget and Management has granted PHP76.1 billion to the DOTr for 2019 to be used for the night-rating of airports in Panglao, Cauayan, Dipolog, Pagadian, and Cotabato. The DOTr has recently appealed to the Senate to restore its proposed budget of PHP160-billion for next year. Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, vice chairperson of the Senate Finance Committee, has expressed his intention to restore the DOTr-proposed budget.
According to the agency’s estimates, upgrading an airport for night operations costs around P400 million. This amount would cover construction, procurement of navigational facilities and equipment, and the extension of runways. The night-rating of regional airports is a priority of the agency as it would increase the services available to Filipinos nationwide, as well as help decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and increase tourist arrivals in all parts of the country.