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Airports badly needed

/ 12:12 AM June 30, 2017

Travel widens one’s horizons. Whoever said that, he or she was 100-percent correct.

Before the aviation era, our early heroes like Dr. Jose Rizal had to take slow ships to reach distant shores. It took months before they could get to their destinations.

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Thank God, the Wright brothers succeeded in their experiment with planes. If Rizal were alive today, he could reach Spain, Germany, and other European countries in 13 hours. In the early years only the rich could afford to travel to foreign lands.

Today, Filipinos, if they save enough and want to, can afford short-haul trips, say, from Clark Airport to Hong Kong, Macao and Singapore or any place in the Philippines and arrive at their destination much faster because our regional
airports are now interconnected.

I, therefore, can’t understand why the Department of Transportation canceled plans to bid out contracts to modernize, operate and maintain some regional airports in the country.

Aside from airports that must be built, there are those that have to be upgraded or expanded. Experts on aviation and financial gurus are one in saying that the best option for the Philippines is to build its international gateway in the aviation complex of Clark Freeport.

I firmly believe that the Ninoy Aquino International Airport should be downgraded to a secondary airport since its 3.2-kilometer single runway can no longer accommodate larger aircraft. And the runway has no more room for expansion, while the terminals there are too congested, causing so much inconvenience to airline passengers.

On the other hand, the Clark Aviation Complex has more than 2,400 hectares with two 3.5-kilometer parallel runways and more room for expansion. It can be expanded and eventually accommodate 11 million passengers.

Since Clark was reopened in 1993, there have been several proposals to make Clark Airport the country’s main international gateway or the secondary airport. The last to propose transforming Clark Airport into the Philippines’ international gateway was the Al Kharafi group of Kuwait in 2008. After more than two years of discussions and evaluation done by Clark International Airport Corp., nothing happened, until the proposal was overtaken by Benigno S. Aquino III’s assumption into the presidency. There were more attempts to get joint-venture partners for the project, but without success.

Hopefully, now with President Duterte’s enthusiasm, things will start really moving.

MAX L. SANGIL, [email protected]

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TAGS: Clark airport, Department of Transportation, regional airports
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