THE government is planning to build a third runway at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in Clarkfield, Pampanga to boost the facility’s chances of becoming one of the major logistics hubs in the Asia-Pacific region.
The runway will be designed to accommodate larger aircraft such as the Airbus 380 and Boeing jumbo jets that cannot be handled by the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). It is also in preparation for the eventual transfer to DMIA of the country’s international airport.
Manila airports are congested and can no longer be expanded.
In a keynote address during the 2nd Philippine International Logistics Expo last week, Transport Secretary Leandro Mendoza said even the immediate opening of NAIA Terminal 3 will not address the problem of congestion in Manila as international airlines will continue to share the same single runway with domestic airlines.
“We are developing Clark to be more competitive in the Asean region,” Mendoza said.
“It is also to put Clark at the forefront of the region when Asean leaders sign (in November) a memorandum of understanding on a single aviation market and liberalized air travel,” he said.
Under the agreement, unlimited flights between Asean capital cities and DMIA may begin by December 2008. By 2015, the Asean may achieve a single aviation market similar to the European Union’s.
“A third runway will not only provide Clark the edge over its counterparts but will immediately lure airline operators to deploy larger airlines to the Philippines both for tourism and logistics,” Mendoza said.
A P10-billion Passenger Terminal 2 is also scheduled for construction by third quarter of the year with foreign firms eyed as bidders.
While waiting for approval of the Clark open skies policy, DMIA operator Clark International Airport Corp is working on several bilateral agreements, including with the Middle East.
It recently opened air talks with Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Korea to turn special charter permits granted by the Civil Aeronautics Board into permanent air entitlements.
DMIA has been experiencing unprecedented growth in the last few years. It currently handles at least 60 commercial flights a week by Air Asia, Tiger Airways, Asiana, Hong Kong Express and China Southern, Seair, Cebu Pacific and Asian Spirit.
United Parcel Service and airline maintenance service provider Lufthansa Technik maintain hubs in the area. UPS is, however, packing its bags by 2010 to set up a hub in China.