Visayas flights’ transfer to Clark certain — Dino
Move to decongest Ninoy Aquino International Airport
It is just a matter of time that some domestic fights from the Visayas will land at the Clark International Airport (CIA) in Pampanga.
According to Secretary Michael Dino, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, some flights would have to use the CIA to decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila that had been beset by air traffic congestion.
“We will have to brace for it (transferring some flights to Clark). (CIA) used to be an air base but it is underutilized,” he said.
Dino said Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade was amenable to his proposal to have a 50-50 rerouting scheme in contrast to the proposal of the airline industry to reroute all flights from the Visayas which would affect flights from Cebu, Tacloban, Bohol, Negros Oriental, Iloilo and Negros Occidental.
“It doesn’t have to be 50-50. It can be 70 percent to Manila (NAIA) and 30 percent to Clark. Let them, the airline industry and DOTr (Department of Transportation), make the division. I am just giving them the idea,” he told the Inquirer.
Dino said that to transfer all domestic flights from the Visayas, particularly from Tacloban City in Leyte, would kill the economy and the tourism of Eastern Visayas which was still reeling from the effects of Supertyphoon “Yolanda.”
The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry-Eastern Visayas Chapter passed a resolution on Aug. 11 opposing the proposal of the airline industry since it would have adverse impact on ordinary travelers who would be burdened by higher cost and longer travel time.
Rerouting the Tacloban-Manila flights to CIA would entail additional handling cost for the delivery of live seafood intended for Metro Manila hotels and restaurants and make the industry less competitive.
But business leaders in Cebu were also worried by the impact if at least 50 percent of the flights from the province would land in CIA.
Cebu business heads
Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) President Glenn Soco said that while CIA would be a feasible option, traveling time, related costs and its impact on business and the consumers should be factored in making the decision.
“Maybe it’s more practical to build another runway,” Soco said.
“Many businessmen from Manila and Cebu fly to and from Cebu and Manila. This will mean additional travel time to and from Clark to Manila of two hours each way,” said Gordon Alan “Dondi” Joseph, president of the Cebu Business Club.
Melanie Ng, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) president, said the government has to establish a mass transit system from Clark to Manila first in order for this plan to be viable.
Mass transport next
Dino, however, assured that putting up a mass transit system similar to Hong Kong would be next in the pipeline once the flights were transferred to Clark.
“If they will fully utilize Clark, Secretary Tugade is thinking of putting up a mass transport system from Clark to Manila,” he said.
But he said some flights have to be moved to CIA to decongest NAIA especially that President Duterte wanted the problem on air congestion at the country’s biggest airport solved as soon as possible.
“There is no time frame but it should happen right away. But how they will do it, let them (DOTr and airline industry) discuss that,” he added.
Cheaper way to Luzon
Dino also pointed out that transferring the flights to CIA might even benefit the passengers.
He also said that cheaper rates would be offered to flights that would land at Clark while those that would use the NAIA would be more expensive.
“If you want cheaper way to go to Luzon, let us go to Clark,” he said.
Dino said it would also be better to land the flights to CIA than staying inside the plane for an hour due to air traffic congestion.
He said travel time from Clark to Manila is a little more than an hour — but at least the passengers know what is happening unlike being stuck inside the airline. /with a report from Reporter Victor Silva and Joey Gabieta of Inquirer Visayas
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