PAL to move some flights to Clark
Flag carrier Philippine Airlines said it was working on moving some of its domestic operations to Clark International Airport in Pampanga, which remains underutlilized but could eventually benefit from increased mass transport connectivity if President Duterte would deliver on a promised railway line.
PAL president Jaime Bautista said the carrier was keen on moving flights to Clark to aid in the government’s call to decongest Metro Manila, including the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, which was operating beyond its intended capacity.
Bautista said the decision came amid recent discussions with the new administration. He said PAL had agreed with the Manila International Airport Authority’s suggestion to move some flights to Clark.
“We told [MIAA],‘we’ll work with you,’” Bautista told reporters as the carrier launched its overseas mobile internet hotspot service with United States-based Skyroam. He said PAL would need to study which domestic flights would be assigned to Clark to minimize potential inconvenience to passengers.
The Gokongwei family’s Cebu Pacific Air is the only domestic carrier with commercial operations in Clark. International carriers operating in Clark include Emirates, Qatar Airways, Asiana Airlines, Jin Air, Cathay Pacific/Dragonair and Tiger Air.
Clark has struggled to lure air traffic due to its distance from Metro Manila and the lack of an efficient railway connection.
This is despite findings of a study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency that earlier pointed to continued growth for Clark.
“While Naia’s capacity is getting saturated, the functions of the two gateway airports of Naia and Clark should be urgently strengthened and integrated by clarifying their roles and improving access to and between these airports,” Jica and the National Economic and Development Authority noted in a report.
The report showed that Clark Airport’s traffic would reach about 2.6 million passengers by 2020 and more than triple to 9.2 million by 2040.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said access would be addressed by a railway line the Duterte administration was planning to pursue. Tugade said the government would build the passenger train system connecting the Clark Freeport Zone to Metro Manila in the Trinoma Shopping Mall in Quezon City, or to Naia in Pasay City.
Tugade gave few details, noting that he would finalize the plan within 90 days.
Bautista said the airline industry was also working closely with the transportation department to ease congestion in Manila.
The plans identified included moving general aviation activities to the Sangley Airport in Cavite and equipping more provincial airports with night landing facilities so they could handle flights in the evening.
Tugade also urged PAL and Cebu Pacific to transfer operations of their smaller turbo-prop planes to Clark. Bautista said the matter would still need to be reviewed.
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