ECOZONES Subic and Clark will get a boost in their bid to become regional logistics and tourism hubs after the government decided to restore the open skies policy in both areas.
During a presentation of the country’s economic growth late last week, National Economic and Development Authority director general Romulo Neri said President Arroyo will sign an executive order (EO) restoring the policy when she arrives from her state visit in Australia this week.
He said Executive Order 500-B will hasten measures being taken by both economic zones to become a major player in tourism and logistics in the Asia-Pacific region.
Neri added it is also in response to the clamor of travel agencies, led by the Philippine Travel Agencies Association, which claim that the country’s flag carriers can no longer accommodate higher demand in the coming years.
The association expects at least 10 airlines to use both airports following the restoration of the policy.
Against the plan are the flag carriers, which say that the fifth-freedom rights given to non-Philippine flag carriers do not guarantee that the same rights will be afforded them (national flag carriers) in their counterpart countries.
Several low-cost airlines such as Air Asia and Tiger Airways operate flights in Clark and Subic. Cargo services are available from United Parcel Service in Clark and FedEx in Subic. FedEx will, however, transfer from Subic to China by yearend. Lufthansa Technik operates a maintenance hub in Clark.
Subic and Clark are being groomed by the government as tourism and logistics hubs by 2010 via the provision of incentives and the putting up of the necessary infrastructure.
The government is fast tracking completion of the 94-km Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway to cut travel time to those areas from Manila by more than half and bring cargo from Central and Northern Luzon to Clark instead of coursing everything to Manila.
Clark expects to double cargo and passenger capacities while Subic anticipates a 200% jump in cargo volumes once the expressway becomes operational.