AN INFLUENTIAL group of airlines has called for the speedy development of Clark International Airport in Pampanga as it backed a proposed “dual airport” system that will involve twinning Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and Clark as the main gateways to the Philippines.
The 14-member Airline Operators Council (AOC) said in a statement: “The AOC supports the principle of the ‘dual airport’ movement in the island of Luzon.” It said NAIA has reached its maximum capacity amid increasing passenger numbers annually.
“The government and the private sector must cooperate if we are true to our commitment that ‘it’s more fun in our Philippine airports’,” the AOC said. “The AOC and the airline industry are very excited about recent developments in government to pursue this principle (dual airport system). There is no question that the runway system in Clark is far more capable of handling numerous inbound and outbound aircraft.”
The statement added, “We are hopeful though that a new passenger terminal would soon turn into reality to encourage our members to schedule regular flights into and out of Clark.”
CIAC president and CEO Victor Jose I. Luciano informed the AOC officers and members that Emirates Airlines will begin its non-stop daily Dubai-Clark-Dubai flights on Oct. 1, while Qatar Airways will launch its Doha- Clark-Doha daily flights on Oct. 28.
Luciano said Emirates and Qatar will have the chance to attract Middle East-bound passengers in Northern Luzon, especially overseas Filipino workers mostly residing in the north.
He added that Emirates and Qatar will also bring European and Arab tourists to visit Clark and the rest of the Philippines.
The AOC also said “we would like to take this opportunity to express optimism in the light of the regular flights to and from Clark initiated by two airline members, Emirates and Qatar.”
AOC chairman Florante Isidro expressed confidence Clark will play a major role in the aviation industry, saying “there is room for growth (Clark) and everything is here.”
Isidro said “he was impressed by the developments at the Clark Airport, particularly the ongoing construction of the P360 million Phase 2 expansion of the Passenger Terminal.”
The expansion of the passenger terminal is expected to be completed by the end of this month in time for the arrival of Emirates and Qatar in October.
The facility will further increase passenger capacity to 5 million annually. In 2012, Clark Airport recorded 1.3 million passengers compared to the previous of more than 600,000 passengers since operating international flights in 2003.
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