Monday, December 14, 2009

Philippines Lawmaker wants civil aviation officials sacked over airport perimeter fences

A Marikina lawmaker asked Secretary Leandro Mendoza of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to immediately sack the officials of Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), who ordered the removal of perimeter fences at the Caticlan Airport in Aklan, allowing animals to roam around.
In an interview, Representative Del de Guzman of Marikina informed Mendoza that stray animals like dogs, carabaos, goats and chickens started to wander around the runway after CAAP Director General Ruben Ciron ordered last month the removal of the fences at the end of the runway, reportedly to accommodate bigger aircraft.

De Guzman, who was also the House committee vice chairman on Tourism, was informed by foreign tourists who visited the white sand beaches of Boracay that hundreds of visitors of the island observed and witnessed the presence of animals at the runway when their plane landed the Caticlan airport last weekend.

In July, flights of major carriers to Caticlan, the main airport servicing the popular beach island of Boaracay, were suspended after successive accidents because of miscalculation and overshot in landing.

Studies made by aerodrome on the runway’s configurations confirmed that the current design of Caticlan runway poses a hazard to aircraft operations.

The CAAP, an agency under the DOTC, also designated Caticlan as a one-way airport for all carriers take off towards the sea and land in the opposite direction, shortening the runway.

According to Ciron, the CAAP spent P32 million for runway extension of 60 meters to bring its total usable length to 896 meters but industry people claimed that the real clincher was the removal of the perimeter fence.

However, contrary to Ciron’s assurance that there are special requirements that airlines must comply with to observe the highest level of safety, it is the CAAP itself that consciously risks the lives of passengers and destroys the image of Boracay as renowned tourist destination by unilaterally removing the fence, said de Guzman.

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