Assessment of Clark airport seen ‘foolish’
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—The chair of the Regional Development Council in Central Luzon described as “foolish” the conclusion made by an International Air Transportation Association official that the Clark International Airport is not fit to be the country’s next gateway.
Tony Tyler, IATA chief executive officer, said on Thursday that the CIA was too far from Metro Manila and the country had no high-speed rail system to connect the Clark Economic Zone to Metro Manila.
“In my view, Clark is not the solution. It’s too far away from Manila, which is where people want to go,” Tyler told reporters earlier in a news forum.
Tyler had also said the proposal to build a high-speed rail line that would bring people from Metro Manila to Clark in 45 minutes would be a costly experiment that would most likely fail.
The government, however, will continue to develop CIA.
“I think [Tyler made] a foolish statement because its implication has no rightful basis,” said RDC chair and City of San Fernando Mayor Oscar Rodriguez.
Rodriguez said many cities in the world had located their airports outside of the metropolis.
The Department of Transportation and Communications has officially expressed its preference for Clark airport as a new gateway, saying it is the viable and practical alternative to the extremely congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
The sole missing support structure for CIA now is a high-speed rail, a project that Rodriguez said the Aquino government had not abandoned.
A high speed train will enable travelers landing at Clark to reach Metro Manila in 30 minutes. At present, travel between Clark and Manila takes two hours when taking the North Luzon Expressway.
Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda, in a separate interview, said the government should consider the parallel development of the Clark airport and the high-speed train to Pampanga.
“We don’t like commuters to be inconvenienced and cargo delayed,” Pineda said.
Rodriguez said the Clark airport was ideal because of its size (2,500 hectares). Built with two runways, it still has room for a third or fourth runway.
“Among the airports in the former bases of the United States military, the one in Clark is most ideal,” he said.
“Definitely, we at the RDC will push for the completion of amenities and facilities at Clark, which will be a premiere airport in the very near future,” he said.
The combination of the Clark airport and the Subic Bay seaport would improve the export of products from the wide agricultural plains of Central Luzon and would make it a premier region, he said.
Hong Kong-based Metrojet Engineering has set up maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility at the Clark Civil Aviation Complex.
Singapore Engineering Philippines set up an MRO two years ago at the facility and is building its second hangar for big aircraft.
The CIA receives 300 aircraft weekly due to flights by AirAsia, Airphil Express, Dragonair, Cebu Pacific, Seair and Asiana Airlines.
On Thursday, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz led the forging of the code of good practices with the Aviation Tripartite Industry Council in Clark Freeport.
The council members include the state-owned Clark International Airport Corp., UPS International, Aerotech Industrial Philippines, AirAsia Inc., Omni Aviation Group, Asian Aeronautics Services, Philippine Aviation Security Services Corp., Dornier Technology, Clark Airport Support Services Corp., Lubewell Corp., Winning Touch International Marketing and Miascor Clark Catering.
Baldoz said the signing aimed to “foster a proactive approach in ensuring voluntary compliance with the general labor standards and occupational safety and health standards.”
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