Too early to put NAIA-1 in private hands, Malacanang says

MANILA, Philippines - The world's "worst" airport terminal will have to remain government-owned. Malacanang has yet to decide if the airport in Clark in Pampanga will become the main, not just the alternative, gateway.

MANILA, Philippines – The world’s “worst” airport terminal will have to remain government-owned. Malacanang has yet to decide if the airport in Clark in Pampanga will become the main, not just the alternative, gateway.

This was the response of Secretary Ramon Carandang of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office when asked to comment about the interest expressed by Metro Pacific Investment Corp chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan to acquire the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Carandang said “it’s too early” to discuss the offer of Pangilinan especially since transportation secretary Manuel Roxas II reportedly said privatization of the NAIA complex is hinged on the decision to move the international airport operations to Clark, a former US airbase in Central Luzon.

An online site recently listed NAIA Terminal 1 as the worst airport terminal in the world. NAIA-1 currently hosts bulk of the airlines bound for and arriving from international destinations. It is one of the three international terminal buildings within the airport complex, which sits right smack in the middle of the capital and already operating beyond capacity.

Clark, on the other hand, sits on a sprawling land ideal for airport operations and–unlike the NAIA runway–it could accommodate huge aircrafts.

However, Clark is over 80 kilometers away from the capital, making access a key issue to passengers coming from or bound for Manila. A high- or medium-speed rail access would have solved it but the long-delayed Northrail project with a Chinese firm was mired in geo-political controversy for years.

In other words, until the rail issue is solved, international passengers on most foreign flights will still have to use NAIA-1.

There is a proposed P1 billion facelift of NAIA-1, and government officials are hoping that would ease travelers woes in the meantime. – Move.PH

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