MABALACAT -- Officials in Pampanga have expressed support to the plan of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC) and San Miguel Corporation (SMC) to develop the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA).

Mabalacat Mayor Marino Morales, who welcomed the move of MPIC chairman Manuel Pangilinan and SMC President Ramon Ang to undertake the construction of DMIA Terminal 2, bared this recently.

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The consortium of the two Filipino tycoons, under Philco Aero, has the capability to develop the airport, Morales said.

He added that any development at the Clark airport will also redound to the overall development of the Central and Northern Luzon area.

"Mr. Ang and Pangilinan's plan for the Clark airport and the construction of a modern railway at the middle of the North Luzon Expressway will bring more development in Luzon area," said Morales.

Local leaders in Pampanga, including Pampanga Governor Lilia Pineda and Vice Governor Yeng Guiao, have also expressed their support to the proposal of Philco Aero.

The Metro Clark Advisory Council (MCAC), in which Morales is a member, had earlier urged President Benigno Aquino III to pursue development of the Clark airport as the country's premier airport.

In a resolution passed by the MCAC, it called for the development of the Clark airport following the spate of diversionary flights in the Clark airport, which had been the refuge of incoming international and domestic flights this month.

Morales said the government should now look into the development of the Clark airport because "it had been proven several times that it can accommodate the entry of wide commercial aircraft plus the fact that it will bring in more development to the countryside."

Morales said the country cannot do with only one airport and that it must have several airports just like those in neighboring Asean countries, such as Hong Kong, which is a leader in the logistics and services industry.

Morales said the full operation the Clark airport will bring in limitless opportunities not only to Pampanga province but to the entire country particularly Central and Northern Luzon.

Earlier, the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) and the Department of Tourism (DOT) have both signified their support to the full development of DMIA.

Neighboring Asian countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong had built their new airports in vast tracts of reclaimed land. Both countries are now the leaders in airport and logistics services in Asia.

The Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC), the operating arm of DMIA has already infused P338 million on the expansion of the existing DMIA Terminal 1 increasing passenger capacity to 2.7 million annually.

The new two-storey DMIA Terminal 1 will have two Aero Bridges, Flight Information Display, Close Circuit Television, Background Music, Public Address System, x-ray Machines, Escalators and Elevators.

The expansion also paved the way for the installation of additional immigration counters, airlines offices, concessionaire's area, and five airline ticketing offices, baggage conveyors and among others.

Morales said the presence of the Clark airport, the modern Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTex), North Luzon Expressway (NLex), and the eventual construction of the high-speed railway will speed up the development of the northern part of Mabalacat as "Makati of the North."

DMIA plays host to foreign and local carriers such as Tiger Airways of Singapore that flies Clark-Singapore, Air Asia of Malaysia via Clark-Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu, Asiana Airlines via Clark-Incheon in South Korea with connecting flights to the US, China and Japan, Cebu Pacific Air via Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok and Macau while South East Asian Airlines (Seair) via Clark-Caticlan at the world famous Boracay Beach Island Resort.

Other carriers include Spirit of Manila Airlines via Clark-Taiwan and Jin Air a subsidiary of Korean Air with chartered flights to Incheon in South Korea. (Reynaldo G. Navales)