Clark is it-A A +A
Check and Balance
Sunday, October 23, 2011
SHOULD the government make good with its plan to sell the highly saturated Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for $2.5 billion, all roads will lead to the Clark International Airport, which is now one of the fastest growing airports in the country.
Why Clark airport? The long-hackneyed twin runway system left by the Americans and a big land area to accommodate more aviation-related industries are just the icing on the cake. The development of Clark airport should be pursued and Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas was on the right track with his announcement recently that operations at NAIA should be transferred to Clark airport.
Negativism at this moment will only have an “economic impact” on the Clark airport, according to aviation experts whom I met a few days ago. People who really care for the development of Clark airport and the welfare of residents in Pampanga province or the entire country should understand this.
The Clark International Airport Corporation, operating arm of the Clark airport led by CIAC President & CEO Victor Jose I. Luciano, has brought forth vital changes to the once listless airport. From Day One as an executive of the Clark Development Corporation, he successfully urged Asiana Airlines to launch the first commercial passenger flight in the Clark airport, bringing in not only flights for Clark but also economic development in Angeles City.
The once languid area of Friendship Road is now teeming with Korean businesses and these bring revenue to the City Government. Other unconscionable people could not, however, appreciate these changes – they only see the negative aspects and not the positive changes. They can see the trees but not the forest.
And so, the government is hell bent on developing a seamless transport link between Clark and Metro Manila that would speed up travel time. A high-speed railway system will link Clark to the rest of Metro Manila although the modernized North Luzon Expressway and the multi-billion peso Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway will serve passengers going to the Clark airport.
Even the Airline Operators Council, which visited the Clark airport recently, expressed confidence on the leadership of Luciano in CIAC after they saw the development at the airport. The AOC, Roxas and Senator Juan Ponce Enrile have agreed that the railway system will speed up development of the Clark airport.
The transfer of NAIA operations to Clark airport, according to Enrile, “will be beneficial to the country because it will link Central Luzon, especially Clark, with Metro Manila. We can transfer the international airport to Clark and leave the present international airport for further development.”
Roxas raised the possibility of privatizing the NAIA to generate $2.4 billion in revenue that could be used for the development of the new international gateway at Clark. With this announcement, no wonder dark shadows are again hurling innuendos against Luciano here and there.
President Noynoy Aquino III should review the qualifications of the individuals that he appointed to various positions under his administration because their presence does not bode well with the development of the entire country.
Roxas noted that the planned transfer to Clark airport “will not happen overnight” and probably take one to three years. Still, Clark remains in the radar of the Aquino government.
Roxas’s announcement came amid criticisms against the NAIA that it is the world’s worst airport. The Guide to Sleeping in Airports voted NAIA Terminal 1 as the World’s Worst Airport for 2011. The NAIA Terminal 1 was ranked the 5th worst airport in the world and Asia’s worst airport last year by the travel website.
Now that NAIA claimed the top spot as World’s Worst Airport for 2011, the national government should act quickly to develop Clark. We have to develop the front of the house, in this case the Clark airport, amid the brickbats. Among others, the website noted that “NAIA Terminal 1 is in bad shape and that a ceiling at Terminal 1 caved in and that the cleaner and spacious Terminal 3 was reportedly structurally flawed.”
It further said that “bribery and theft exist and while airport taxes are collected, the money does not seem to go towards the development of the airport.”
At press time, the Clark airport is operating smoothly without any technical glitch. The Clark airport gives emphasis to security and safety at the airport. It is threading the road to greatness and no amount of criticism can derail any good plans. I remember what the Ombudsman said in its decision when it quashed the complaint against Luciano before. One word: “Incompetents.”
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on October 24, 2011.