Aquino to decide on fate of Clark airport

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09:37 PM February 28th, 2013

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By: Paolo G. Montecillo, February 28th, 2013 09:37 PM

The fate of Clark International Airport will be left in the hands of President Aquino, who will have to decide if the government should develop two major airports in Luzon or focus its efforts on just one.

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said different plans for Clark and its Manila counterpart, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia), would be brought up to the Cabinet economic cluster and later to the President for approval within the month.

The choice would be between maintaining two major airports—Clark and Naia—supporting each other, or vacating Manila in favor of the former US military base.

Malacañang also has the option of establishing a brand-new airport inside Metro Manila or in a nearby province that will replace the existing Naia complex in Pasay City.

“We are finalizing plans and bring this to the President [for a final] decision,” Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said Thursday.

Abaya admitted that while there were several options on the table, no clear favorite has emerged and it would be up to the President to take his pick.

“Will we have one or two gateways? Do we close down Naia in the future for some other airport? A lot of stakeholders are waiting for these decisions,” Abaya said in a radio interview.

“What’s important is that a decision is made soon so projects can move forward,” he added.

Clark International Airport is seen as the inevitable replacement to Naia, which has suffered from congestion and various legal issues over the past decade. The Clark airport sits on 2,400 hectares of land, more than three times bigger than the 700 hectares occupied by the current Naia complex.

Plans to develop Clark, however, have been put in the backburner as the government weighs its options on sticking with Naia.

The Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines, which represents foreign business groups operating in the country, earlier this week lamented the government’s indecision over Clark’s development.

The group said the frequent changes in the DOTC’s leadership—the department has had three secretaries in the last three years—has left Clark airport in the “twilight zone.”

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