MANILA Aug 22 (Reuters) - Philippine President Benigno Aquino has ordered the construction of a third runway at Manila's main international airport to ease air traffic congestion in one of Southeast Asia's fastest growing economies.
The project is expected to cost at least 2.4 billion pesos ($55 million), and the amount may increase to include the construction of a fourth terminal at the airport, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said.
"The president's guidance was very clear. We'll find ways to have this completed before his term ends because the benefits are clear," Abaya told Reuters. Aquino steps down after a single six-year term in June 2016.
The runway would be a quick-fix solution to the congestion plaguing Manila's dilapidated airport, which is currently the main gateway for international travel. The government is also looking into building another international airport at a former U.S. naval base southwest of the capital to serve future growth in travel and tourism.
Another runway would increase the number of planes taking off and landing to 48 planes per hour from 42 planes currently. If an additional airport terminal is built, the take-off and landing rate could further rise to at least 58 planes an hour, Abaya said.
($1 = 43.765 Philippine peso) (Reporting by Rosemarie Francisco; Editing by Miral Fahmy)