Reflections from Doha-A A +A
Check and Balance
Sunday, November 3, 2013
"SA PAGPASOK ng Qatar Airways at Emirates sa Clark, dapat magtrabaho ng todo ang Dept. Of Tourism dyan sa Central at Northern Luzon para makahikayat hindi lang ng maraming turista, kundi pati narin ng mga investors mula sa Middle East, North Africa at Europa. Huwag niyong sayangin ang pagkakataon."
The message came from Kapampangan Qatar-based Gulf Times reporter Joey Aguilar who arrived on October 28 with fellow OFWs and Philippine Ambassador to Qatar Crescente Relacion aboard the inaugural flight of Qatar Airways to the Clark International Airport. Joey returned to the country on a three-day whirlwind visit just to experience the nine-hour direct flight between Doha and Clark. The flight aboard the Airbus 330 was a breeze, according to Joey.
Well, Qatar Aiways is touted as ‘World’s Five-Star’ airline for nothing. Joey had expressed excitement over the Doha-Clark daily direct flights because home is just around the corner – just a seamless direct flight to Clark, where he can get home in a matter of minutes.
It felt good when I saw Joey exiting the tube – fresh from Doha and full of enthusiasm. Joey now encouraged the DoT to work closely to attract tourists and investors to Clark.
We might as well strike now while the iron is hot or forever lose the chance. To this, Joey adds: “Ano kaya plano ng DoT region 3 at ng mga katabing lungsod ng Clark? May comprehensive (short, medium, long term) tourism plan ba ang Clark, Subic at provincial government? Paano sila makakapanghikayat ng mga investors at turista kung may problema sa peace and order sa mga lugar na yan? Anong ginagawa ng kapulisan? Ano ginagawa ng DPWH para maayos ang trapiko sa mga lungsod na malapit sa Clark? Clark is now Qatar Airway's second destination in the Philippines after the heavily congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Clark airport president and CEO Victor Jose Luciano said: "Indeed Clark is blessed, as the World’s Five Star Airline, Qatar Airways has selected Clark its second destination in the Philippines.”
Qatar Airways top executives had also expressed confidence on the viability of Clark airport as Qatar Airways Senior Vice President for Commercial Operations Woo Yew Seong noted: “Clark was chosen as its second destination because of its strategic location and future as the Philippines' next gateway.”
Woo said Qatar Airways will increase its direct flights between Doha and Clark airport – something that hundreds of OFWs in the Middle East had been anticipating in the past. As a Middle East-based OFW in the 90s, I used to fly Singapore Airlines on my much-anticipated yearly vacation because we are not keen on flying the Boeing 747s of Saudia Airlines which figured in a mid-air collision near India.
OFWs who hail from Central and Northern Luzon now have a better choice – between Qatar Airways and Emirates Airlines. OFWs all over the Middle East now find it easier to get to the Philippines via Clark airport with the Qatar Airways’ and Emirates Airline’s flights.
In the meantime, we should heed the call of Joey: ‘Get our acts together to increase investments and the number of warm bodies visiting the Philippines via Clark airport.’ It took years for both of these long-haul airlines to come to Clark – and we should do everything to support them or Clark loses its luster and viability forever.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on November 04, 2013.