Airport exec pushing for Clark-US flights
After the debut of two Gulf carriers this month, Clark Airport is looking to lure foreign carriers with operations in the United States on expectations that the Philippines would soon obtain a coveted upgrade from the US air safety regulator.
Victor Luciano, president and CEO of Clark International Airport Corp., said the move was also in line with getting more airlines to operate in Clark, which was being developed as the country’s next major gateway and an alternative to the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila.
“We are awaiting the lifting of the downgrade of the Philippines by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration),” Luciano said at the sidelines of a press conference on Wednesday.
“On that, we are working with some foreign carriers to fly to Clark from the United States,” said Luciano without elaborating.
The Philippines was downgraded to the so-called Category 2 status five years ago by the FAA.
Its restoration to Category 1, which the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said could happen within 2013, would allow local carriers to expand in the United States while opening up opportunities for carriers there to mount flights to the Philippines.
Luciano spoke to reporters a day after Emirates started its daily service from Dubai to Clark. On Oct. 28, Qatar Airways is expected to start flights from Clark to Doha.
Luciano said the government was pushing through with a plan to build a P7.2-billion budget terminal at Clark Airport with a capacity of 10 million to 15 million passengers per year but this needed to be studied further.
He said the government was set to tap France-based Aéroports de Paris as consultant and designer of the new terminal.
“If we sign in about a week, they will finish this (design) in three months,” said Luciano, adding that the airport could be completed before Aquino steps down in 2016 if they begin construction by the second quarter next year.
He said the government had yet to decide whether the project would be pursued using government funds or under its public-private partnership program.
The new airport terminal would accommodate low-cost carriers operating out of Clark, namely, Cebu Pacific Air, Air Asia Berhad, Jin Air and Tiger Air Philippines.
Long-haul airlines include Asiana Airlines of South Korea, and Dragonair of Cathay Pacific.