CLARK FREEPORT - The Clark International Airport (CRK) posted a record of 1.3 million passengers in both international and domestic for 2012.
This is a 71-percent increase from the previous year, making it the fastest growing airport of the country, said Clark International Airport Corporation president and chief executive officer Victor Jose I. Luciano.
In a report to Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Luciano said the “Clark airport achieved a historical record of 1.3 million passengers for 2012.”
“The Clark Airport achieved an unprecedented growth on the strength of budget travel that encouraged passengers coming from Northern and Central Luzon and as far as Metro Manila and Southern Tagalog to experience Clark,” Luciano said.
“As an airport, Clark has proven its viability, its resilience and robustness,” he added.
Records showed that Clark airport attracted 1,312,979 passengers from January to December in 2012 surpassing the 767,109 passengers in 2011. This is a 71.16 percent increase from the previous year.
International passengers alone accounted for 1,013,096 passengers or a 77 percent of total volume in 2012 compared to 725,023 in 2011.
Luciano said Clark’s domestic passengers also surged when Air Asia, Airphil Express, and Seair-Tiger commenced domestic flights in April last year to the country’s prime tourist destinations.
Domestic passengers reached 299,883 last year or a 613 percent increase compared to 42,086 in 2011.
Last December 2012, Clark airport posted 151,401 passengers compared to 84,541 passengers for the same period in 2011 hitting a 79 percent increase.
Luciano said that Executive Orders 28 and 29 of President Benigno Aquino III boosted the attraction of Clark as alternate airport to foreign and local carriers alike, as airlines were encouraged to fly outside Metro Manila as alternate to Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
“It also helped that Clark International Airport was placed under the direct supervision of the DoTC in the December 2011 under Executive Order 64, then Secretary Mar Roxas and now Sec. Abaya did a lot of encouragement and gave full support to Clark when we were made member of DoTC’s Aviation Cluster along with Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) and Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA),” he said.
Luciano said they are expecting that the growth will continue this year as the airport’s connectivity to Metro Manila will be improved when a dedicated regular first class bus service commences on January 15, 2013 from Trinoma Mall in Quezon City direct to Clark via Mindanao Avenue then through the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) at a low bus fare of P200 per trip to Clark.
He said Ayala-owned Trinoma Mall has provided a comfortable fully-furnished waiting lounge dedicated to Clark-bound passengers while waiting for their buses. Three bus companies will initially operate the Clark-Trinoma run, a trip that will take only an hour.
Luciano said “the surge in passengers has boosted the financial performance of the Clark International Airport Corporation operator of the Clark Airport.”
“For the first time in its 17 year history, the company will post a very positive balance sheet. Clark was a dormant airport from its inception in 1995 up to 2002 when United Parcel Service (UPS) chose Clark as its Intra-Asia Hub. In the last quarter of 2003 the commercial passenger operations in Clark started with the introduction of international passenger charter flights Asiana Airlines of Korea to Clark,” he added.
AirAsia Philippines alone is expected to carry around five million passengers within the next five to seven years. Clark Airport is AirAsia’s 4th hub in the Asian Region.
The airport is the home of at least eight budget carriers, namely, Air Asia Philippines, Air Asia Berhad Malaysia, Cebu Pacific Air, Airphil Express, Seair-Tiger Airways, Jin Air and Zest Air.
Legacy airlines include Asiana Airlines of South Korea and Hong Kong based Dragonair.
These airlines cater flights to Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Malaysia Macau, and Taipei in Taiwan.
Other routes at Clark Airport include flights to Incheon and Pusan in South Korea by Asiana Airlines and Zest Air.
Asiana also has connecting flights to the United States, China and Japan.
Domestic flights also boosted the passenger growth of the airport such as routes to Kalibo, Cebu, Puerto Princesa and Davao which are being provided by Air Asia, Cebu Pacific, Airphil Express and Seair-Tiger.
In October 2012, the CIAC Board approved the reduction terminal fee from P600 to P450 in a bid to attract more passengers especially Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) mostly coming from the Northern and Central Luzon areas.
Clark airport also received its first "One Millionth Passenger" in a single year in the first 10 months of 2012. CIAC named the one millionth passenger as Eddie Rose Navarro of Bulacan who took a flight from Hong Kong to Clark via Air Asia Philippines last October 24, 2012.
In November 13, 2012, the airport achieved its five millionth passenger since commencing commercial operations in 2003. The five millionth was Limuel Rivera of Taguig City, Metro Manila who took a Cebu Pacific flight from Macau.
SIA Engineering Philippines has started construction of its two hangars to boost their maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services at the Clark Civil Aviation Complex. The facilities are expected to be completed by second up to third quarter of 2013.
The hangars will accommodate twin-aisle aircraft such as the B747 and B777 in addition to the existing hangar, established in 2009, that services narrow-bodied aircrafts.
SIA Engineering is a joint venture project between SIA Engineering of Singapore and Cebu Pacific Air.
On June 5, 2012, Hong Kong-based aviation company Metrojet Engineering, the leading business jet operator in Asia, inaugurated their $40 million MRO facility at the aviation complex. (Reynaldo G. Navales)