Clark Airport-SBMA tandem can ease Manila congestion


By Emmie V. Abadilla | Manila Bulletin

The Clark International Airport (CRK) and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) should serve as “a super duo to solve vehicular traffic and port congestion in Manila,” says SBMA Administrator Wilma Eisma.

However, mutual cooperation is vital to connect Clark and Subic free ports and turn Central Luzon into a major logistics hub, she stressed.

CRK and Subic free port will complement each other in efforts to disperse economic activities in regions, Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) President and CEO Alexander Cauguiran confirmed.

 “With our more than 21 million potential passengers from our catchment population, we expect more flights via Clark in the months to come,” he noted.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s infrastructure plan for Central Luzon includes the multi-billion peso Clark airport’s New Terminal Building Project and a railway system linking the free ports of Subic-Clark to Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon.

The interconnecting railway project is expected to hasten the improvement of passenger volume at CRK and lure in more local and foreign investments especially at the Subic free port zone.

 “This will definitely be a come-on for local and foreign investors and will spell further growth in the local economy of Zambales and the rest of Central Luzon,” according to Cauguiran.

CRK expects to increase passenger traffic to as much as 1.5 million passengers by year-end, and its new terminal building project is slated to be completed by the first quarter of 2020.

The airport logged in a total of 6,205 international and domestic flights with 950,732 passengers for local and foreign routes in 2016.

The present Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) grows at an average of two million passengers a year for the last seven years, prompting the national government to optimize the use of Clark airport for some operations of domestic and international airlines.

Clark’s domestic and international flights were increased only in the first quarter of this year, according to Cauguiran.

CRK serviced 950,732 passengers in 2016.  This year, CRK is projecting to service approximately 1.5 million passengers by end of 2017.

At present, CRK has 138 weekly international flights and 118 weekly domestic flights. Airport authorities expect numbers to grow as Philippine Airlines mounts more flights later this month for Tagbilaran, Cagayan de Oro and Bacolod.

Within the year, other domestic carriers are expanding their operations, specifically Cebu Pacific Air, Air Asia, Wakay Air, and SEAIR Philippines.

Negotiations are also ongoing for international carriers to start operations at Clark airport by mid-2017.