MANILA, Philippines – Entertainment City, a gaming and entertainment complex under the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, objected to the transfer of its chartered flights from Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to Sangley Airport in Cavite ahead of the set deadline for the transfer on May 31, 2020.
Earlier, the Department of Transportation issued Department Order No. 2016-019, ordering the transfer of all general aviation from NAIA to other gateways.
President Rodrigo Duterte also ordered the transfer of some NAIA flights and operations to Sangley Airport, in a move to decongest NAIA.
During the joint hearing by the House committees on transportation and games and amusements on Monday, December 2, Entertainment City representatives expressed their apprehensions regarding the department order.
Lawyer EJ Labro, representing City of Dreams Manila, pushed to maintain operations in NAIA because the company invested in the development of NAIA Expressway to make VIP transportation more efficient.
Moving the operations would significantly lengthen the travel time of VIPs, Labro said. The integrated resort has chartered flights only once or twice a month.
"The NAIA Expressway was specifically constructed so that it would be convenient for our patrons to go to Entertainment City," said Solaire representative Allanmark Pailan.
Solaire has a fleet of 3 jets, which had a total number of 126 flights in 2018. Solaire representative Fernando Gaspar said this was only 0.047% of all NAIA movements.
The firm had similar apprehensions as City of Dreams Manila, saying it would be "unreasonable" and a "great inconvenience" to VVIP patrons if operations were transferred to Sangley airport.
"The amount of contribution brought by our VVIPs are considerable, so in terms of a cost-benefit analysis, the contribution of these patrons as to the negligible weight given by the flights of our aircraft in NAIA, I would think that it would not be reasonable to move our operations to Sangley instead of NAIA," Pailan said.
Resorts World chief legal counsel Walter Mactal shared the same sentiments, saying that transferring operations would cause inconvenience to guests.
"The licensees' primary purpose was also to help in boosting the tourism industry. The NAIA expressway was also built to have a better sense of arrival of the tourists arriving from the airport to the Entertainment City and vice versa," he said.
House committee on transportation chairman Edgar Sarmiento said the government should look at these contracts and consider the firms' concerns.
Meanwhile, Manila International Airport Authority Senior Assistant General Manager Elenita Fernando said they were planning to move only turbo prop and cargo aircrafts initially. – Rappler.com
Loreben Tuquero is a researcher-writer for Rappler. Before transferring to Rappler's Research team, she covered transportation, Quezon City, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government as a reporter. She graduated with a communication degree from the Ateneo de Manila University.