Emirates execs pleased with CIA-A A +A
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
CLARK FREEPORT -- With still unfinished civil works at the airport for the maiden flight of Emirates Airlines last Tuesday, executives of the multi-awarded airline cited Philippine government officials for their efforts to support the growing number of aviation traffic here.
In a news conference Wednesday, Mohammed Mattar, Emirates' Divisional senior vice president Airport Services, said they are grateful to the support of authorities for an improvement of facilities at the airport here.
"To be honest with you, I am thankful to Mr. Luciano. He has done a lot to improve the airport. He has put his budget for the amenities," Mattar said.
Emirates mounted its maiden flight to Clark International Airport here last Tuesday, bringing in 207 passengers from its hub in Dubai aboard a Boeing 777-200 LR.
The flight to Clark is Emirates' 135th destination worldwide and is the second gateway to the Philippines since starting operation in Manila in 1990. The Dubai-Clark-Dubai flight is among the nine new international passenger routes of Emirates for 2013.
The unprecedented daily long haul flight to Clark from the Middle East came as the passenger terminal is being expanded and access road and ramps are being rushed for completion. While the new passenger terminal was partially opened Tuesday, incoming and outgoing passengers passed through the existing portion of the terminal.
Gigie Baroa, Emirates country manager for the Philippines, said the Clark flight was a result of a long market research and study since 2005 when the airline first considered the former US military airbase.
"The (maiden) flight was flawless. We were so excited and we are proud of the support we got from Pampanga and the region," Baroa said.
For his part, Victor Jose Luciano, president of Clark International Airport Corporation, said the completion of the new airport terminal is six months ahead of schedule, or on December 30 this year.
Original target of completion was set for June 2014 after being started in July this year.
Clark’s passenger terminal is being expanded to accommodate more wide bodied aircraft with a budget of P360 million from the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC). Once finished, it will be able to process five million passengers annually.
Luciano said among the expanded terminal's new feature will be the addition of 20 more passenger counters, bringing the total to 34 for an airport that is being tagged as NAIA’s twin or alternate.
He also said there will be additional boarding bridges which procurement might be delayed due to the bidding process.
Citing Luciano's efforts, Mattar said, "Mr. Luciano is doing well. He is focusing on the future. Today it's Emirates, tomorrow it's another airline after another. He has to expand and expand to have more counters, lounges and immigration system."
In his speech during the arrival ceremonies, Mattar said, "Emirates would like to thank the Government of the Philippines, the Civil Aviation and the Clark Airport Authority for their support in making the launch of our services between Clark and Dubai possible."
While giving emphasis on the importance of prompt passenger services, Mattar said he is satisfied with what he saw at Clark airport as he flew in from Dubai in that maiden flight.
"I am very pleased that from yesterday when I came through the arrival. And today when I see the departure. My colleagues here are saying good about it," Mattar said.
Last Tuesday's ceremonies for Emirates' maiden flight were led by Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Abaya who read a speech on behalf of President Benigno Aquino III.
He was joined by Embassy of the UAE Second Secretary and Consul Mohammed Abdel Rahim Mohamed Askar Alnaqbi, Emirates Philippines Country Manager Gigie Baroa, BCDA President Arnel Casanova, CDC President Art Tugade, Pampanga Congressmen Oscar Rodriguez and Yeng Guiao, Mayor, Edgardo Pamintuan and Mayor Marino Morales and many others.
The inbound inaugural flight was operated by Captain Jamie Jr Rocamora from the Philippines along with First Officer Yousif Alblooshi from the UAE. The return flight to Dubai on same day was flown by Captain Ahmed Almalood from the UAE and First Officer Walter Friday Brigoli from the Philippines.
Emirates currently uses a Boeing 777 in a two class configuration on the route, with 42 Business Class flatbed seats and 216 Economy Class seats. Emirates flight EK 338 departs from Dubai International Airport at 4 a.m. and arrives at the Clark International Airport at 4:40 p.m. The return flight EK 339 departs at 6:35 p.m.
With the new daily flight to Clark International Airport, Emirates SkyCargo will be able to provide more than 160 tons of additional cargo hold capacity each way per week, further supporting Philippines exports of perishables, such as dairy products, fruit and vegetables, meat, seafood and electrical and electronic equipment, and its imports of textiles, apparel, plants, flowers and chemical products.
Emirates is a fast-growing international airline with one of the youngest fleets in the sky and more than 500 awards for excellence worldwide. (Noel Tulabut)
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on October 03, 2013.