Aviation experts sees growth potential in Clark airport

CLARK FREEPORT -- Aviation industry experts from Germany were impressed in the development of Clark, citing its growth potentials especially in infrastructure development and the creation of a premier gateway here.

In an interview, Oliver Cristinetti, managing director of DFS Aviation Services, said this Freeport has a good environment, adding that it is “interesting to see how the growth will be done (in Clark).”

He was part of the German delegation who were taken to Clark on Wednesday, July 5, by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar and Bases Conversion and Development Authority President and CDC Officer-In-Charge Vivencio Dizon. The delegation was headed German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure State Secretary Michael Odenwald. They were received in Clark by Clark International Airport Corp. President Alexander Cauguiran and CDC VP Eva Tejada.

The aviation expert observed that Clark being a relatively new major gateway has vast land area for aircraft activities and aviation-relation businesses while noting that Germany may be running out of lands for expansion of its major airports.

With the major plans that are in place for the Freeport, “you have to possibility to grow which we don’t have in Germany,” said during the interview.

“And this huge effort or huge growth in getting more planes and passengers here at the (Clark) airport and, of course, in that area this will be a major challenge (to Clark) so you have to have the right procedures in getting the planes in the right separation and down,” Cristinetti said.

“We do not have the space, and we do not have the possibility to grow and we do not have this huge demand on additional traffic,” Cristinetti added.

Cristinetti said his company offers a wide range of products and services related to air navigation services and is a wholly owned subsidiary of DFS, the German air navigation service provider.

He said that in Germany, there are about approximately 3 million aircraft movements annually. The DFS Group is also responsible for air traffic control at 25 airports in Germany and abroad, coordinating 2.4 million take-offs and landings each year.

He added that “for us, we are most well-experienced and we are dealing with a lot of traffic in Germany and Europe, but we do not have the possibility to set-up, let’s say on a green field, to complete a new airport with all the things you are planning (to do).”

The aviation expert said he joined the delegation in support to the aviation sector development that is becoming “huge in Asia and to get an impression of the aviation (industry) in the Philippines.”

“And so if we can assist in setting up a good airport with a good infrastructure and with good procedures and with a high quality and safety then we would be proud to do so,” he said.

“With the huge effort and growth in enticing more aircraft and passengers in Clark airport which is a major challenge for the Philippines, the airport should have the right procedures in getting the planes in the right separation and down,” he added.

There has been an increase in flight and passenger traffic after President Rodrigo Duterte called for greater utilization of Clark airport.

From 558 international and local flights in May 2016 carrying some 88,000 passengers, the numbers improved in May 2017 to 1,167 international and local flights that carried more than 146,000 passenger.

From January to May 2017, Clark airport registered 632,713 passengers and 4,603 domestic and international flights. Clark currently has 130 international flights and 114 domestic flights weekly. Passenger traffic is projected to reach 1.5 million by end of 2017.

In addition to expanding its commercial horizons, the construction of the airport’s new terminal-building that can take in 8 million passengers annually is scheduled to be finished by the first quarter of 2020.

Cauguiran said direct flights to the United States are also expected to commence by the end of the year. He also disclosed negotiations for flights to Japan, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Taiwan, and Thailand.
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