MANILA, Philippines – Clark is not bitter.
After AirAsia Philippines announced that it is moving its hub to Manila, Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) president Victor Jose Luciano expressed support to the decision of CIAC’s biggest locator.
“Clark will continue to give fullest support to its airlines, and will give all the encouragement to AirAsia to increase flights out of Clark,” Luciano said in a statement Friday, September 13.
“Clark believes in the capability of the management of Air Asia, not only to overcome its present difficulties but even grow the airline soon.” Luciano added.
He said he understands the reasons that led AirAsia to announce on Thursday, September 12, that it will be suspending most of its flights from Clark, the hub of parent AirAsia Berhad since it started international operations in 2005.
“Clark acknowledges the challenges confronting AirAsia Philippines, made more daunting with the acquisition of Zest Air while the latter is in the midst of hurdling regulatory issues,” he said.
AirAsia has stakes in ZestAir, which suffered massive financial losses from the 4-day grounding of its fleet in August. AirAsia will extend financial help to Zest Air, which will soon be rebranded as AirAsia.
AirAsia will soon be operating in Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 4 (NAIA-4) where Zest Air has slots in.
NAIA is highly congested with no room for expansion. It remains the country’s main gateway despite plans to move to or do a tandem airport strategy with Clark. The two airports are about 100 kilometers apart, and still without rapid train links.
Clark is marketed to cater to passengers coming from or going home to areas in central and northern Luzon.
Other airlines, new terminal
CIAC’s Luciano remained hopeful that the upcoming long-haul flights by other international airlines will make up for the “temporary” loss of AirAsia.
“The expansion of the Passenger Terminal is to accommodate the coming of the long-haul flights from the Middle East, the wide-body planes of Emirates and Qatar, and Clark is being readied for the coming of more of these long-haul flights,” Luciano said in a statement.
Emirates Airlines will start their non-stop daily flights via Dubai-Clark-Dubai on October 1, while Qatar Airways on October 28, via Doha-Clark-Doha daily flights to Clark airport. Emirates will utilized a Boeing 777 aircraft with a capacity of 438 passengers, while Qatar will use a Boeing 330-300 aircraft with capacity of 308 passengers to their operations at Clark Airport.
He stressed that the suspension of local and international flights by Air Asia Philippines is only temporary saying that” they will resume operations this coming December.”
The CIAC management is also preparing the expansion of the P360 million Passenger Terminal currently undergoing construction. The facility is expected to accommodate 5 million passengers annually once completed.
The Airline Operators Council (AOC) earlier declared full support in the government’s move of a “Dual Airport” development of the Clark International Airport and the NAIA.
The AOC sees the potential of Clark Airport of becoming the next premier gateway of the Philippines. AOC Chairman Florante Isidro said that Clark Airport will play a major role in the development of the aviation industry in the country. AOC represents various local and foreign airlines.
Clark Airport is hosts to various airlines such as Cebu Pacific Air, Tiger Air Philippines, Asiana Airlines of South Korea, Dragonair of Cathay Pacific, Jin Air of Korea and Air Asia Berhad of Malaysia. – Rappler.com