The Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines has expressed support to development of the Clark International Airport in Clark, Pampanga as a viable alternative to the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Metro Manila.
“The geography of [Metro] Manila just doesn’t support [NAIA] where it is, and is not long-term viable,” Ebb Hinchliffe, executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), said during a roundtable discussion with the joint foreign chambers last Tuesday.
AmCham senior adviser John Forbes previously said a new airport terminal in Clark should be built in the next two years, with a non-stop fast train connecting service to alleviate traffic congestion.
The Manila-to-Clark airport express rail will be under the national government’s priority projects as part of the “Build, Build, Build” plan that is expected to be completed in 2021.
Airline company South East Asian International (SEAIR) agrees that Clark is the proper alternative for NAIA, along with relocating industries and government offices to either south or north of Metro Manila.
“Clark should be the proper alternative, and the idea of decongesting [Metro] Manila should be moving the industries and the government offices either north or south of the metropolis,” SEAIR Chief Executive Officer Benjamin Solis said.
Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) said it eyes additional flights this year and expects the new Clark terminal to be completed before the end of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term in 2022.
“Here we are, so far, and soon, Clark airport will have a new passenger terminal building before President Duterte’s term ends, thanks to the leadership of [Transportation] Secretary [Arthur] Tugade,” CIAC President and CEO Alex Cauguiran said in a statement.
The Clark International Airport serviced 950,732 passengers in 2016.
It is projecting to service approximately 1.5 million passengers by the end of 2017.
The airport handles 138 weekly international flights and 94 weekly domestic flights at present.
Earlier, Eduardo Monreal, the general manager of the Manila International Airport Authority, operator of NAIA, told The Manila Times that he is looking forward to the development of Clark airport to accommodate the overflow at NAIA.
On Thursday, the Department of Transportation (DoTr) said it “will no longer entertain unsolicited proposals for the [Clark airport] project and just bid out the operations and maintenance of the airport in the future.”
Tugade also earlier said the transportation sector is pursuing a hybrid mode of public-private partnership implementation.
“This ‘hybrid’ mode of implementation means that the government will not entertain multibillion-peso offers to develop Clark airport and develop it on its own before bidding out the operations and maintenance component,” the DoTr said.
“This will enable government to fast-track projects without the risk of delay brought about by possible lawsuits filed by losing bidders,” it added.