PAL mulls over flights between Manila, Clark
For those traveling north of Metro Manila, Philippine Airlines is proposing a new solution to avoid road congestion in the capital district: just take the plane.
PAL President Jaime Bautista told reporters the flag carrier was seeking rights to operate flights between Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport and its underutilized alternative, Clark International Airport in Pampanga.
Bautista said this would achieve several goals.
This would help develop Clark as a premier airport destination by turning Manila into a domestic hub.
From there, passengers flying from outside Metro Manila heading to north Luzon provinces can choose to take a 20-minute flight to Clark instead of going through hours of traffic by car, Bautista said.
It can also serve people who commute often between the southern and northern portions of Luzon.
Bautista declined to give figures, but he said fares would be attractive for flyers.
“If we really want to develop the Clark market, we can make Manila as a hub and then passengers from many destinations from all over the country can fly to Manila and then we can fly them to Clark,” Bautista told reporters on the sidelines of the signing of a partnership between PAL and Easytrip Services Corp.
The proposal comes ahead of PAL’s inaugural operations in Clark, which Bautista said would be launched before the end of 2016.
Rival Cebu Pacific is the only domestic carrier with operations in Clark.
Bautista noted they were only eyeing direct flights to Clark via major gateways, including Cebu and Davao.
The Manila-Clark flight would be ideal for passengers traveling from other areas, like Iloilo.
That move would also help lure international visitors hoping to avoid multihour road trips in Metro Manila.
He said PAL was still on track to launch direct fights from Incheon, South Korea to Clark within the year.
Those visitors can then choose to take a flight to Manila from Clark.
“It’s a very short flight. But I’m sure there are passengers who are willing to take that shorter travel time, pay a little more but experience the comfort of flying,” Bautista said.
Bautista said their initial application to airport authorities was rejected, due to the lack of time slots at Naia that PAL was eyeing.
He said they would study other time slots, before making a fresh application.
The proposal to link Manila and Clark by air was aimed at addressing the lack of efficient transport options between both gateways.
The Duterte administration promised to build a railway line that would connect both Naia and the Clark Freeport Zone.
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