China Eastern Airlines is set to mount in the next few months its initial flight from Clark International Airport (CRK), targeting mostly business travellers as economic activities at the Northern Luzon hub continue to increase, according to an executive of Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC).
CIAC president and chief executive officer Alexander Cauguiran said officials of China Eastern, China’s second largest carrier in passenger terms, toured CRK facilities on March 8, the airline’s initial step toward finalizing plans to beef up its flight network and use the airport as one of its hubs.
“China Eastern is encouraged by the marketability of Clark airport and the increasing number of its local destinations,” Janette Cordero, the representative of the airline’s ground handler in the Philippines, said. She added that this will be the first time China Eastern will be flying via Clark.
Cauguiran, who attended the briefing of China Eastern officials, led by Channe Chen, the airline’s general manager in Manila, said the entry of another major airline will further increase passenger traffic at the airport.
“This will definitely boost CRK’s operations as we are also looking at thousands of business travelers who may now choose Clark to fly China Eastern,” he added.
The airline also plans to establish an exclusive airport lounge at CRK, being a legacy carrier with interstate routes, and offering first-class and business-class seating and a frequent-flyer program.
According to its website, China Eastern’s initial route will connect Clark to its main base in Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport, where all international and several domestic flights to and from Shanghai are hosted.
Cauguiran said the Clark-Shanghai route will also connect to numerous cities in Europe, Asia, and North America.
Meanwhile, low-cost carrier Air Asia is returning to CRK with thrice-weekly Clark-Kalibo flights starting March 27 and four-times-weekly flights to and from Davao beginning April 22. The carrier augments the operations of Philippine Airlines, whose domestic flights include CRK to Caticlan, Cebu, and Davao, as well as international flights via Incheon in South Korea.
On March 26, flag carrier PAL will start servicing a Palawan route via Puerto Princesa and Busuanga.
CRK hosts other airlines, such as Emirates Airlines via Dubai, Qatar Airways via Doha, Asiana Airlines via Incheon, Jin Air via Incheon and Busan, and Cebu Pacific Air via Hong Kong, Macau, and Singapore, as well as domestic flights to Cebu, along with Cathay Dragon via Hong Kong and Tiger Air via Singapore.
International cargo service giants FedEx and UPS likewise mount a weekly average of 23 international and domestic cargo flights at CRK.