LESS than P5 billion is left of the P14.4 billion that two private companies paid two years ago for the right to operate the Mactan airport terminal.

Cebu City Rep. Raul del Mar believes that the amount should be used to pay for a second runway in the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA).

“A second runway project is important because in Manila, while there is no traffic in the international terminal and the scheduling of flights, there is traffic now on the ground, not in the air,” the congressman from Cebu City’s north district said.

He said that many times during peak hours in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, he has had to wait long for his flight to taxi and take off.

“Good if it is just a couple of minutes. But in some occasions it has gone to 30 minutes and even an hour,” del Mar said.

While such a problem hasn’t been felt in Mactan yet, the addition of flights with the opening of a second airport terminal means that the airport’s second runway ought to be built soon. It will also help the MCIA compete with other airports, including Clark, for additional flights and passenger traffic, the congressman said.

He said he didn’t want the existence of only one runway in Mactan to “be the stumbling block that will not give us the growth in flights coming in from other parts in the world.”

Funding can come from the amount that the GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. (GMCAC) paid the government, before it began to manage the Mactan airport terminal in November 2014.

The fund was one of the requirements the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) set for the 25-year contract to operate the airport passenger terminal and to build a second terminal.

After taxes

However, del Mar said he learned from MCIAA General Manager Nigel Paul Villarete that only P5 billion is left of the P14.4 billion after the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) collected taxes.

Del Mar said he wanted to be sure that the remaining P5 billion would be allocated for the second runway in Mactan, so that Cebu won’t have to suffer the runway and air traffic that have been observed in Manila.

When asked to comment, Villarete confirmed that P4.95 billion, out of what GMCAC paid, is left with MCIAA.

Under the law, all government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) are subject to a tax of 30 percent of its net income, Villarete explained. After tax, the MCIAA had P9.9 billion left out of the original payment.

Because the National Government is entitled to 50 percent of the income under the law, MCIAA was left with P4.95 billion.

Villarete who is managing MCIAA in a holdover capacity, said that he hopes the next MCIAA Board will consider the construction of the second runway.

Can afford

The engineer said that with the P4.95 billion and retained earnings of the MCIAA, the government can afford to build a second runway.

In House Bill 149, which the congressional Bills and Index Service received last June 30, 2016, del Mar explained: “One rule of thumb is that a single runway can cater to passenger traffic of around 15 million a year.” The assumption is that flights are evenly spread over 24 hours.

He also quoted the IATA Airport Development Reference Manual’s estimate that a single runway, operating for 16 hours, can serve approximately 202,000 aircraft movements in a year.

“Assuming that aircraft movements at MCIA would be spread across operational hours in future, runway capacity will be reached by the year 2024,” del Mar wrote in the bill’s explanatory note.

He added: “It is noted, however, that aircraft movements are generally not spread out over the entire day, considering the differing demand across the different routes and the fact that routes are approved by another agency, the Civil Aeronautics Board. In reality, the existing MCIA runway is expected to breach its capacity much earlier than 2024.”