• ‘They are trying to drive away the airlines’


    Manila-based Airline Operators Council (AOC) executives made an ocular inspection on the ongoing construction of five-hectare expanded terminal facility of Clark International Airport (CIA), “What we’re doing here is we are trying to correct the mistakes of NAIA Terminal 3 by injecting new ideas here in Clark.”

    Their visit on Tuesday is part of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) operational readiness for airport transfer as two of AOC members are moving in to a new facility, Leoncio Nakpil, chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) AOC said.

    Nakpil and with members of the AOC led by its chairman Florante Isidro, noted the CIA’s fast improvement in a matter of few months.

    “Now in a matter of few months, they were able to construct a new building, an airport facility, which means within two months an airport can be built,” Nakpil said, adding that they only want to see improvements from their previous visit they made last year.

    Nakpil pointed out that if the government is serious in showing determination to build, to improve or expand such facility in Clark, it could be done in less than a year.

    The Asean AOC executive also mentioned the issue in NAIA terminal 3 when some foreign airlines wanted to move in to the terminal. “Until now, we have not seen the reality, the light of that dream.”

    Nakpil revealed that the AOC was used to be a part of a group to ensure terminal 3 its operational readiness. “But apparently at the middle of the negotiations there were some issues that we have to be resolved. There were issues in government that was the time the administration of President Arroyo started questioning. Before the airlines could move in, the courts took over. Malacañang took over. So the negotiations never pushed through because of that.”

    He added that there are so many questions hounding the terminal 3—the question of ownership, structural integrity, and the question of completion of all the requirements of the airport.

    During their operational readiness meeting, the AOC is raising issues related to passengers, movement of passengers, security, cargo, fuelling system, as well as the need of sophisticated check-in system, a baggage sorting system, and check-in counters which what the airport and the airlines require.

    The AOC cried foul when Philippine government are having problems on air congestions as it exceeded the capacity of the airport.

    The AOC said that the government put more flights to NAIA in order to encourage tourism from 32 flights to 40 flights a day. The International Civil Aviation Organization, however, NAIA was only allowed to 32 flights a day.

    “We have exceeded that already. It is unfair for us that they are trying to drive away the airlines. Pinaghirapan mong hatakin yung mga airlines, ngayon pinaaalis nila ,” Nakpil stressed, adding that the government should have plan for it, “when you get food, you better make sure that the food that you can only consume is what you get otherwise it will spoil.”

    He said that the best solution to the problem is to get a twin airport, a dual airport or get another airport within the same area for minimum of about 20, 30, or 40 minutes away from the existing airport.

    As for the Clark, it has room for expansions, the space, which the airlines organizations have all the necessary requirements they require in Clark–runway, navigation aids, space, and parking. Clark also can handle an airbus A380, wide-bodied aircraft, medium size aircraft, transport size aircraft and cargo planes.

    The only problem that the airlines and airport officials are facing and trying to solve is the access way from Manila to Clark. But the government, he said, has already addressed the issue since this was a project. There was a plan in progress to build an inter-connection highway between Makati and Balintawak, which should only take about 14 minutes.

    “So, if you’re travelling from Alabang to Balintawak, it will only take you in 21 minutes. So those are the concerns that we came here,” Nakpil said.


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