Govt to decide on policy affecting Clark soon

MANILA, Philippines - It's coming soon.

This was what Transportation secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said about the much-anticipated decision on whether the Clark International Airport will be part of plans to address the congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), currently the main international gateway.

“An international airport is an important infrastructure so we need to make a policy on whether to adopt a single or twin airport system,” Abaya stressed in a radio interview on Thursday, February 28.

He pointed out that the agency is set to make a recommendation to President Benigno Aquino III for approval soon.

In mid-February, various Clark airport stakeholders, including business locators at the former US air base in central Luzon, called on the government to make a policy decision on the airport system.

They said they had banked on the previous plans of the government to make Clark the country's main gateway since the airport sits on a sprawling property that makes runway congestion -- as the case in NAIA -- a non-concern.

Abaya acknowledged that Clark is the country’s fastest growing airport with 8 budget airlines handling 1.3 million passengers in 2012.

One or two?

Earlier, Clark International Airport Corp. president and chief executive officer Victor Jose Luciano pushed for a twin airport system that would allow the joint development of the international gateway in both Clark and NAIA.

“We support the development of a twin-airport system that is the overall development of both Clark airport and NAIA. Both airports will have a symbiotic relationship that will be beneficial to the traveling public,” Luciano stressed.

He pointed out that CIAC is set to submit on March 4 a list of projects including the construction of the gateway terminal, a P6 billion budget terminal, navigational equipment, among others to the DOTC for approval.

The updated list including costs of the projects submitted by other attached agencies of DOTC would also be consolidated and submitted to National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) for processing.

Lance Gokongwei, the president and CEO of Cebu Pacific, the country's biggest budget carrier, earlier said a high-speed rail connection between Manila and Clark is key in pushing a two-airport system.  -