Saturday, January 22, 2011

P80-million fund for NAIA's VOR not included in P4-billion deal — CAAP

MANILA, Philippines (PNA) — Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Director-General Ramon Gutierrez on Thursday said that the P80-million would-be fund to purchase new aviation equipment is not included in the P4-billion aviation deal.

Gutierrez said the P4-billion aviation deal between the government and the Thales-Sumitomo Group that Senator Estrada had questioned was accorded in 1998. “Ours is different. The P80-million fund was only meant to buy a new very high frequency omni-directional range (VOR) for the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).”

According to him, the P4-billion contract was intended for the modernization of the whole air traffic control system of the country.

He said since the CAAP has diminutive resources and cannot be able to procure such device, the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) will make the financial arrangement while the aviation agency takes care of the services. From its original P120-million funds they requested, the budget was slashed to P80-million.

However, the P80-million is P2-million short of the VOR’s original price in the foreign market. He disclosed that he was considering a Korean company that was offering a VOR that is worth P80-million. “But we could not grab it until we know that it is the same brand that we are currently using,” Gutierrez said.

Another foreign company has offered the CAAP of equipment leasing which cost only P50-million. “Malaki ang matitipid, sa open bidding, but, we are inclined to buy a new one because its life span is approximately 10 to 12 years.”

The old VOR made headlines when it conked out on June last year that triggered the cancellation of at least 50 domestic and international flights at the three terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

The glitch was additional burden to the Philippines when it was working out for getting back the category 1 status after the United States Federal Aviation Administration downgraded the Philippine aviation to category 2 in 2008.

Asked if he is optimistic that the European Union would lift restrictions once the foreign evaluators resume inspection in September, this year, he said they are still preparing for such assessment.

The Philippines is one of the countries in the world that has been blacklisted by the European Community where the country’s all airlines are banned from flying to any European bloc because of “serious safety deficiencies” in the Philippines’ regulation of carriers.


NEHA JAIN                                                                                                                

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