Clark International Airport joins top 24 list of world's most beautiful airports
Photo by Jojie Alcantara

Clark International Airport joins top 24 list of world's most beautiful airports

HERE'S good news for Dabawenyos and Mindanaoans. Clark International Airport (CRK) now flies Clark-Davao-Clark daily on Cebu Pacific Air as of May 1, 2024.

Photo by Jojie Alcantara

You may wonder what the big deal is about. As the slogan says, there is always more to experience at the Clark International Airport, located inside Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga, Philippines.

Apart from flying direct to Clark with easier access to the Central and Northern Luzon regions, this gateway to the north hosts 128 domestic and foreign flights a week for seven global airlines and is a suitable alternative or complement to Metro Manila's busy airport and endless queue.

Photo by Jojie Alcantara

CRK is inspired by the legendary Arayat mountain range where the airport is nestled. Mt. Arayat is the most popular hiking destination in the Central Luzon region as it juts out majestically in the flat plains. It is this unique and exceptional architectural design concept that pushed CRK into international recognition when it landed as top six finalist in the 2021 World Selection and airport category of the prestigious Prix Versailles, the World Architecture and Design Award at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco)

Photo by Jojie Alcantara
Photo by Jojie Alcantara
Photo by Jojie Alcantara

The Prix Versailles initiative recognizes the world's most beautiful achievements, showcasing exceptional architecture and design that enhance living environments. Held annually at Unesco since 2015, the initiative encompasses architectural competitions spotlighting contemporary projects globally. 

Photo by Jojie Alcantara

A World Jury selects 24 World Titles across categories like airports, campuses, passenger stations, sports, museums, emporiums, hotels and restaurants, honoring innovation, creativity, and cultural heritage while emphasizing intelligent sustainability principles. These achievements reflect ecological efficiency and social values, aligning with the United Nations' emphasis on environmental and cultural impact.

In 2023, 24 international airports were recognized on the list, with CRK as one of two laureates from Southeast Asia (Van Don International Airport in Vietnam is the other) and Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport in China in the lead.

Photo by Jojie Alcantara

Designed by Populous and constructed by Megawide Construction Corporation and GMR Infrastructure, the terminal has a total floor area of 110,000 square meters, four floor levels, 18 aero bridges, and is designed to accommodate eight million passengers annually.

Photo by Jojie Alcantara
Photo by Jojie Alcantara
Photo by Jojie Alcantara

The builders pay homage to the mountains of Mount Arayat, Mount Pinatubo, and the Sierra Madre Mountain range, serving as inspiration to the wavy roof silhouette. The rest of Central Luzon's cultural heritage is highlighted by the influence of shapes and textures in its interiors.  The boarding gates are color coded (green for international and blue for domestic). Muted tones of cream and soft gray emit a simple elegance and calming ambience while accents of green and blue emulate Mt. Pinatubo's crater lake, as well as the lush landscape of Mt. Arayat 

Distinctively, a burst of colors emanates from the event space with suspended colorful star lanterns symbolizing the Kapampangan parol-makers and its festive revelry.  At the baggage carousel, passengers can view high-ceiling designs that imitate the majestic cave walls in Central Luzon.

CRK's new terminal aims to provide contact-less options between passengers and airport personnel like self-service kiosks for passenger check-in, and self-bag drops. It also highlights inclusivity and broader access for all passengers, from toilet categories (family rooms, gender-neutral and PWD-friendly restrooms) and escalators and elevators to all boarding gates.

The writer with DATO members
The writer with DATO membersPhoto by Jojie Alcantara

This exclusive tour was made possible during the Davao Association of Tour Operators (Dato) travel exchange and familiarization tour to Clark-Subic-Pampanga and Bataan with the Department of Tourism Region 3 (DOT 3) in February 2024. We capped our four-day itinerary with a guided walk by Lipad airport duty manager Patrick Garcia inside the impressive and spacious terminal before flying back to Davao with ease.

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(Jojie Alcantara, writing for this paper since the 90s, considers the honor a significant steppingstone for her workshops, speaking engagements, travel adventures, and shoot assignments around the country and abroad. Visit www.kodakerdabawenya.com)

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