Time to Speak About the Airport, Part 2

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014


WORST AIRPORT-The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) is listed as among the worst airports in the world. Not only because it is too crowded, dirty and poorly managed, but there is a very heavy air traffic that causes delay to discomfiture of airline passengers, their planes circling around the aerodrome for many minutes before they can make landing.

In its present location, it can no longer expand to construct more runways, and no more space to extend its single runway.

THE OPTION-National leadership is very much aware that due to hefty increase in the traffic load of airlines, it is a must that an international gateway to replace NAIA should be built and the most logical option is the Clark International Airport. The Clark airport has more room for expansion. It is located in 2,200 hectares, presently having two parallel runways with a provision of a third runway fit really for an international gateway.

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LATEST DEVELOPMENT-Many friends reacted, and several expressed apprehension because the country's richest conglomerates, among which, San Miguel Corporation, SM group and the Ayala group are partnering and proposing a $10 billion airport they will build on a reclaimed land on the Manila Bay. And President Noynoy Aquino, despite him coming from nearby Tarlac, seemingly is in accord with the plan. Not necessarily it is a good plan for the country, but the Ayalas are his patron, and he is a Cojuangco related to Boss Eduardo 'Danding' Cojuangco, the main man of San Miguel Corporation.

EARLY ACCOMPLISHMENTS- I pointed out in the earlier column that it was only after then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo appointed Victor Jose 'Chichos' Luciano, a former country manager of Asiana Airlines, that the Clark airport, now renamed Diosdado Macapagal International Airport began having many international flights. It was also during Luciano's watch, with the direction policies provided by the board that strides were made.

More than a year after Luciano assumed the presidency, the terminal expansion that can accommodate 2.5 million passengers was inaugurated in June 2010. And in the succeeding year, according to statistics provided by Darwin Cunanan, the business development manager of Clark International Corporation, there was a 72 percent increase in the international and domestic operations.

THE AIRLINES-There was a dramatic increase in the international passenger flights after upgrades undertaken. The departure lounge and the arrival area were spruced up to make it more convenient for passengers. A baggage conveyor was added and dual passenger boarding bridges were installed, and resulted to more airlines using the airports. Diverted flights not able to make safe landing at the NAIA frequently landed at DMIA as their safe haven.

The early airline companies making flights to DMIA are Asiana Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Dragon Air, Zest Airways, SeaAir, Jin Air and other known airlines coming in later.

THE FLAKS-Chichos Luciano is a charming fellow. He doesn't easily get peeved on criticisms hurled towards his direction. More than anybody else in the country he wanted DMIA to be the next international gateway. It will be his legacy. What people don't understand, it is beyond his control on how to proceed on his planned gateway. Luciano and the CIAC board are merely hostages of the Malacanang Palace policies. Each one marches only on the roll of the drum of the president of the Republic of the Philippines. And in between, circumstances help in causing the delay in the plan for DMIA as the next international gateway. (To be continued. We will present the many causes of delays).

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on May 29, 2014.

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