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Revisit Clark airport as main gateway

/ 12:12 AM September 23, 2016

In a congressional hearing, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez asked an undersecretary of the Department of Transportation as to how many of the 80 airports in the country he has thus far visited. His reply: only one.

Experts on aviation and financial gurus are one in saying that the best site for the Philippines’ alternative international gateway is the aviation complex of Clark Freeport, and that the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) should be downgraded to a secondary airport. After all, its 3.2-kilometer single runway can no longer accommodate the larger aircraft. And the runway has no more room for expansion. The terminals are too congested, causing airline passengers so much inconvenience.

The Clark aviation complex, with its more than 2,400 hectares and two 3.5-km parallel runways, has more room for expansion. Since it was reopened in 1993, there were several proposals and efforts in the past to convert Clark airport into either the main gateway or the secondary airport given that the Naia is already beyond its capacity.

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The last proposal for the construction of a gateway came from the Al Kharafi group of Kuwait in 2008, but it took the Clark International Airport Corp. board more than two years discussing and evaluating the proposal, only to be overtaken by Benigno Aquino III’s assumption into the presidency in 2010—still without closure.

After several failures in getting joint-venture partners, new tacks were tried, but with still no success. Hopefully now, with the new leadership under Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, and with support from a strong-willed president, things will go beyond planning.

—MAX SANGIL

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TAGS: Arthur Tugade, Clark airport, Clark Freeport, Clark International Airport, Department of Transportation, Naia, ninoy Aquino international airport
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