Clark Airport -65 km north of Malaysia- is turning again for airlines into an alternative to heavily congested Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Philippine Airlines (PAL) is now just adding three new domestic routes with the first Cebu flight last Monday out of Clark International Airport (CRK).
Ismael Augusto Gozon, PAL senior vice president for airline operations, during the launching ceremony held Monday at Clark Domestic Passenger Terminal, said that PAL will add three new routes, namely Davao, Puerto Princesa and Busuanga that will fly out of Clark.
“PAL is launching Clark to Davao on February 1, and Puerto Princesa and Busuanga service on March 26,” Gozon said to local media as he expressed optimism that PAL’s operations will continue to grow in the coming months.
Clark-Cebu is Philippine Airlines third route of the nation’s flag carrier and the fifth one in less than three months. The airline launched a daily route to Caticlan on December 16, 2016 as well as weekly services to Seoul-Incheon in South Korea on January 1 this year.
The Clark-Cebu plane departs from Clark every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday while the Davao route is flown every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. “PAL’s flight is a new route that is part of our ongoing expansion outside Manila and we will continue to develop new routes for Clark as well as a secondary hub of operations in Luzon,” Gozon said.
President and CEO of Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC). Alexander Cauguiran, declared that PAL decision shows the need to ease congestion at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila which already reached passenger capacity of 37 million last year. By comparison, Clark welcomed last year only 950,732 passengers, a growth of 9.5% over 2015. it is still 28% below the airport’s record of 2012 with 1.32 million passengers.
“Clark Airport offers convenience and comfort to passengers especially those coming from the provinces of the northern and Central Luzon,” Cauiguiran said.
“President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive is to develop Clark―the premier airport of the North,” Cauguiran added, citing CIAC’s vision that is aligned with Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade’s efforts to develop the Clark International Airport with the support of private proponent initiatives. An urgent task is to offer a direct rapid rail link from Manila to Clark, a project which has been evocated for decades but never started due to the lack of funds.
The government of Rodrigo Duterte announced last November to plan at least US$1 billion in contracts to build a new green city in Clark for business headquarter, a new international terminal for eight million passengers as the much expected high speed rail link to Manila city centre.
It would then make the airport a true alternative to NAIA in Manila. Currently travel time from Manila city to Clark can last up to two hours and a half because of heavy traffic jams on Manila tollroads.