CLARK FREEPORT -- Metro Manila’s horrendous traffic congestion may be eased with the full development of Clark International Airport (CRK).

Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) head Alexander Cauguiran reiterated this during the second leg of the CIAC North Philippines Roadshow in Dagupan City on Friday.

Cauguiran said that at least 12 million out of the 36 million passengers using the Ninoy Aquino International Airport come from the northern and Central Luzon provinces.

“Ten to twelve million passengers are recorded to be coming from the northern part of the country. Assuming that fifty percent of the figure plies EDSA en route to NAIA, you have at least six million vehicles clogging EDSA,” Cauguiran said.

The CIAC chief added that the volume of vehicles in Metro Manila will be drastically reduced if travelers from Regions 1, 2 and 3, the Cordillera Autonomous Region, and the CAMANAVA Area (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela) will use Clark airport instead of the over-crowded Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

These areas have a combined population of around 24.2 million, a huge market potential of CRK and the airline industry in the country.

Studies indicated the inevitable growth in the number of passengers due to the increasing flights at CRK.

Farah Decano, city administrator of Dagupan City, said that Clark’s progress spells the economic growth in Dagupan and Pangasinan.

The CIAC officials presented an update of CIAC’s Master Development Plan which includes the construction of a new passenger terminal with an eight million-passenger capacity per year.

The Department of Transportation, headed by Secretary Arthur Tugade, is implementing the development of Clark airport.

“Secretary Tugade’s marching order is for us to entice airlines and to ensure first-rate operations of Clark airport,” Cauguiran said. “The DOTr plans to build another terminal by 2019 or before President Rodrigo Duterte’s term ends while CIAC maximizes the use of the existing terminal with a capacity of 4.2 million passengers annually in the next two to three years.”

“We look forward to increasing passenger traffic in CRK while helping ease the congestion at the NAIA and Metro Manila,” the CIAC executive added.

The road show also featured presentations from airlines representatives of Philippine Airlines, Asiana, Qatar and Emirates.

“This is the time to do business, to expand, and to patronize Clark airport,” Martin Valera, Regional Director of the Department of Tourism Region 1, said. “Clark will vastly improve interregional traffic between north Luzon and southern provinces of the country.”

PAL has already made its strong presence at CRK with domestic flights to Caticlan, Cebu, Davao, and international flights via Incheon in South Korea. The flag-carrier is also set to launch its Palawan route via Puerto Princesa and Busuanga domestic flights by March 26.

Air Asia will launch thrice weekly Clark-Kalibo flights starting March 27 and four times weekly flights to and from Davao by April 22, two routes that are expected to further boost CRK’s passenger traffic.

CRK hosts other airlines such as Emirates Airlines via Dubai, Qatar Airways via Doha, Asiana Airlines via Incheon, Jin Air via Incheon and Busan, Cebu Pacific Air via Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and domestic flights to Cebu, along with Cathay Dragon via Hong Kong and Tiger Air via Singapore.

The CIAC roadshow will also be held in Olongapo, Balanga, Bulacan and Cabanatuan.