'Govt to start dual-airport scheme soon'
CLARK FREEPORT—The president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) has disclosed that there are now strong indications that the government will be opting for a dual-airport system soon.
Victor Jose I. Luciano, CIAC president and CEO, said this is meant to attract more foreign travelers to the Philippines.
He said under this emerging policy, the operation of the main gateway, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia), in Metro Manila will be complemented by the Clark International Airport (CIA) here, which is about 90 kilometers away.
The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has been quietly financing projects designed to upgrade CIAC‘s facilities, topped by the construction of a terminal for arriving passengers, now nearing completion, Luciano added.
This corrects unpopular observations that the administration of President Aquino is not keen on pushing for the speedy development of the CIA as another premier gateway for air travelers.
During the Balitaan Forum of the Capampangan in Media Inc. at the Bale Balita here on Friday, Luciano also announced the start of the daily flights of Qatar Airways via Doha-Clark-Doha on October 28, the second Middle East airline to do so.
Emirates Airlines launched on October 1 its non-stop daily flights for the Dubai-Clark-Dubai route at the 2,367-hectare Clark Civil Aviation Complex. The carrier committed to attract 1 million passengers for the CIA.
Qatar Airways, Luciano said, will connect Clark airport to more than 125 international destinations in the world.
Luciano said the moves of the two Middle East airlines buttressed the commercial feasibility of the Clark airport to serve as Luzon’s second premier international gateway dedicated to servicing passengers bound for or departing from Central and Northern Luzon, including overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), business travelers and foreign tourists.
This makes the emerging policy on the adoption of a dual airport for the Manila gateway more feasible.
He said the use of a dual or even a multi-airport system for a particular gateway is not new, citing the case of New York in the United States and London in Britain, where more than one airport operates on a complementary basis.
According to Luciano, Clark airport enjoys certain distinctive features that could fit in the dual-airport system now under contemplation by national policy makers. Among these is its strategically placed location in the center of the Luzon urban beltway hub in the Philippines, as well as its central location in the Asian region.
This free port is also an emerging metropolis, coupled by its connectivity given the existence of infrastructures, like roads and tollways that facilitate the movement of people.
Added to these is the presence of a vast market for both departing and arriving passengers and businesses, boosted by the presence of varied destinations for tourists and growing commercial centers, he said.
It is, perhaps, due to these “pluses that the Clark airport has consistently occupied prominence in all feasibility studies on the choice of future sites in Luzon to serve as Manila’s complementary airports,” Luciano said.
Moreover, these were the very factors which Qatar Airways and Emirates Airlines cited in their decisions to use Clark airport as their second gateway to the Philippines, Luciano said.
“A lot of airports all over the world have been inviting Emirates and Qatar, and it’s really a wonder why these airlines chose Clark airport. Emirates, before they decide to go into an airport, they do a very extensive study…market study profile of the citizens and they have been studying Clark for the past five years. It is not an overnight decision,” Luciano said, adding that this proves CIA’s viability as the next premier international gateway of the country.