Flights from Clark to Hawaii, California pushed
The state-run operator of Clark International Airport in Pampanga province plans to start talks with “major carriers” to launch flights between Clark and Los Angeles, California.
In a statement yesterday, Clark International Airport Corp. president and CEO Alexander Cauguiran said they planned to hold negotiations with the airlines as early as this year.
At present, the airport has international links to Incheon and Busan in South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau, Dubai and Doha. Starting October this year, China Eastern Airlines will fly the Shanghai-Clark route.
“CIAC is also negotiating with airlines to mount flights via Clark to Japan, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Taiwan and Thailand,” Cauguiran said.
Clark flights to the US would be beneficial to residents of northern Luzon, in particular the Ilocano community in Region 1, a Department of Tourism official said in the statement.
Martin Valera, DOT Region 1 director, said there were three million Ilocanos and their relatives living in the US West Coast.
California accounts for 47 percent of Filipinos in the US while Hawaii comes in second, hosting 10 percent of US-based Filipinos, according to statistics from the Commission on Filipinos Overseas.
“The Ilocano community in Region 1 is urging Clark airport to market itself to other carriers to service more destinations, particularly Clark-Honolulu and to other parts of the US,” Valera said.
“In Hawaii, there are more than 250,000 Ilocanos living there. If there will be direct Clark-Honolulu flights, that would be beneficial for Clark and for the Ilocano community as well as more people will be able to visit Region 1,” he added.
The Ilocos region includes the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union and Pangasinan. Filipinos are the third-biggest ethnic group in Hawaii, next to the Chines and Japanese.
Clark Airport is looking to increase passenger traffic to as much as 1.5 million passengers by yearend. This is still below its capacity of four million passengers annually.
Meanwhile, the Duterte administration is foring ahead with plans to expand the air gateway, which would include a new passenger terminal that would double capacity by 2020.
Mr. Duterte’s infrastructure plan for Central Luzon includes the P12.5-billion Clark New Terminal Building Project and the commencement of a mass transit railway project that will connect commuters from Manila to Clark airport and the New Clark City in Tarlac.
The 106-kilometer railway project, estimated to cost P255 billion, is planned for completion before the end of Mr. Duterte’s term and aims to cut the two-hour travel time from Manila to Clark to 55 minutes.
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