AirAsia said it is planning to go back to Clark International Airport (CIA) when the connector road linking the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) is built in 2016.
“Yes, when that connector is built, Secretary Singson mentioned to me that the connection would be ready, and [traveling from]Makati to Clark [in Pampanga]will take just 45 minutes,” AirAsia Group chief executive officer Tony Fernandes told reporters, referring to Rogelio Singson, Philippine Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary.
The connector road is a 13.4-kilometer, four-lane expressway that will run over the Philippine National Railway lines from Caloocan City to Makati City, linking the Northern and Southern Luzon expressways.
In October last year, AirAsia temporarily suspended its flights to Davao, Kalibo, Taipei and Hong Kong from Clark International Airport.
“It’s been a rough ride. I remember pretending that it’s just a walk in the park, [but]because Clark didn’t work, we thought Clark would be easier, but the market wasn’t prepared to go that far,” Fernandes said.
In 2012, Victor Jose Luciano, president and chief executive officer of Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC), said that Clark airport had seen “phenomenal growth.” He expressed confidence that passenger volume in 2012 reached 1.5 million.
“This only manifests that Clark International Airport is showing potential to become the next premier gateway of the country, and we at CIAC, will continue to provide better air travel transport to the traveling public, particularly the overseas Filipino workers mostly coming from the Northern Luzon area,” Luciano said.
He also said the airport recorded an increase in passenger volume in both the international and domestic markets of 109 percent, or 117,488, for August 2012, compared with 56,328 passengers in August 2011.
Clark International Airport serves 316 aircraft movements a week as a result of new flights on both international and domestic routes.
Luciano attributed the higher number of passengers to the increase in international and domestic flights by low-cost and full-service carriers.
CIAC is preparing the expansion of the existing Passenger Terminal Phase II project worth P360 million to accommodate the expected influx of passengers.
Luciano had proposed to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) a plan to set up a separate budget terminal worth P12 billion, similar to what the Kuala Lumpur International Airport has in Malaysia. The proposed budget terminal can accommodate at least 10 to 12 million passengers annually.
The DOTC had earlier allocated P100 million for a feasibility study on the entire Clark Civil Aviation Complex in preparation for its transformation into the next premier international gateway in the Philippines.
“I love Clark, it’s your low-cost airport from paradise, but right now it’s like a hell of a ride to that paradise, so with the connector it would be closer,” Fernandes said.
“In 2016 we’ll be back, we like Clark,” he added.