San Pedro: CRK Joins Big League

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By Arnel San Pedro

Check and Balance

Monday, March 25, 2013


THE CLARK International Airport is joining the big league in the aviation industry.

This, amid the announcement of Emirates Airlines that it will finally launch daily flights between the desert oasis of Dubai and Clark airport, something that most Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) had been anticipating in the past. And according to my friend Arlan Naeg, who is now with Emirates Airlines in Seattle, US, wherever Emirates Airlines spread its wings other Middle Eastern Airlines such as Qatar Airlines and Etihad will surely follow.

Arlan has had enough of Cali and also left another desert oasis – Las Vegas – to work in the laidback atmosphere of Seattle. Unknown to many, he and other Filipino-Americans had been lobbying for the Emirates flights to Clark telling Emirates executives to forget all about increasing flights to the heavily congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport. We would like to see the Emirates flights between San Francisco (SF) and Clark and Los Angeles (LAX)-CRK. Wow, Filipino-Americans who hail from Central and Northern Luzon will fly in via Clark and will forget all about landing in Manila.

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With the Category 2 status of our country’s aviation safety and security concerns, local carriers like Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific, are not in the position to launch flights to the US or Europe. Likewise, US and European carriers had been reluctant to fly to the Philippines.

The Philippines just recently passed the significant safety audit conducted by the ICAO but the Federal Aviation Authority still has the last say if the country indeed improved its aviation safety and security programs. By all means, the government should have addressed the Significant Safety Concerns (SSCs) issued in 2007 and we should get back our Category 1 rating.

The positive outlook in the aviation industry comes at a time when the government had also quashed the highly restrictive taxes on foreign carriers – the 3 percent Common Carriers’ Tax and the 2.5 percent gross Philippines Billings’ Tax. It was a great sacrifice on the revenue-generating scheme of the Philippine government but this will be beneficial in the long run for the economy as more foreign carriers fly into the country. Now, it’s more fun to do business in RP as far as the airlines are concerned.

Just two weeks ago, the CRK topped the Routes Asia Marketing Awards (for airports “Under 20 Million Passengers”) in Mumbai, India besting out six international airports in Asia led by Aukland International Airport in Mangere, New Zealand; Bengaluru International Airport in Devanahalli, Kamataka, India; Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Shamshabad, Hyderabad, Andrha Pradesh, India; Juanda-Surabaya International Airport in Sidoarjo, Indonesia; Kansai International Airport in Osaka, Japan; and Siem Reap International Airport in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

The Department of Tourism, meanwhile, also received the “Highly Commended Destination Marketing Award” during the Routes Asia event. The government was sending out positive signal to the international community with the improvement of the country’s aviation and tourism industry. We have to grab the opportunity now.

Clark International Airport Corporation President and CEO Victor Jose Luciano said: “The real winner here is not only Clark Airport nor the Department of Tourism but the entire aviation and tourism industry in the country. Slowly but surely, we are putting the Philippines back on the global stage and the major players in these industries are taking notice and positive interest in our country.”

“Also, what we have shown here is that under the good governance thrust of President Aquino, the Philippines can at last be at par with our more developed and prosperous neighbors in the region.”

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on March 25, 2013.

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