CLARK FREEPORT --- Airport authorities have bared plans to make this year's Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Festival the last one inside the Freeport.

Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) head Alexander Cauguiran said this as the national government is finally pushing for the immediate full development and utilization of Clark International Airport (CRK).

Given the full support of President Duterte and Transporation Secretary Arthur Tugade for Clark airport, CIAC will recommend to concerned parties that next year’s hot air balloon fiesta be held outside the immediate air space of CRK,” said Cauguiran.

“While we also subscribe to the objective of the hot air balloon fiesta to promote local tourism around Clark, priority must be given to the increasing number of commercial airlines at CRK. More commercial flights at CRK would mean a limited window of hours that hot air balloons may fly around Clark freeport,” Cauguiran said.

CIAC officials revealed that the three-year Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) entered into in 2014 by the Clark Development Corporation, the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta Foundation and CIAC will expire this year.

Ritche Nacpil, CIAC manager for airport operations, made an assurance that no commercial flights at Clark airport will be affected by the hot air balloon fiesta. In fact, it is an explicit instruction from CIAC President Cauguiran that no balloon will take off until the only commercial flight scheduled to depart at 7 am, which is the Cebu Pacific flight to Hong Kong, has already left."

“During the past 20 years that the balloon fiesta was held at Clark, no commercial flight has been delayed due to this event,” Nacpil said.

He explained that the “Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) that CAAP regularly issued during the balloon fiesta is a standard measure for the information, guidance and safety of all concerned. But as always, airport operation is the top priority.”

Nacpil added that similar NOTAMs are issued when remote-controlled drones with camera, sky lanterns or fireworks are used within the immediate air space of Clark.