CLARK FREEPORT—Pampanga Rep. Joseller Guiao said San Miguel Corp. (SMC) should invest in the development of Clark International Airport (CRK) here instead of spending $10 billion to build an entirely new gateway on an area to be reclaimed from the coast of Cavite province.
The new gateway project intends to replace the decrepit Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) in Pasay City.
Guiao described the Clark facility as the country’s future leading gateway because its 2,500-hectare span is at par with other airports in Asia. Clark also has two 3.2-kilometer runways.
A former facility of the US Air Force, the Clark airport was rehabilitated during the administrations of President Corazon Aquino and President Fidel Ramos.
“It is cheaper for both the public and private sectors to develop CRK because the basic facilities are already in place. No reclamation is needed because a whole lot of contiguous land is reserved for expansion,” Guiao told the Inquirer on Friday.
15 years too long
Focusing the development on CRK would provide an immediate backup or alternate to Naia, he added.
According to Guiao, the 15-year period it would reportedly take SMC to reclaim 900 hectares in Cavite could be too long and could be outpaced by economic activities.
SMC offered the unsolicited Cavite airport proposal to help solve congestion at Naia where airlines have reported losing P7 billion in wasted fuel as aircraft await landing and parking.
Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan, chief executive officer of World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines, described the airport plan in Cavite as “crazy” because, he said, the proposed site is on the coast, which is vulnerable to storm surges the likes of which had devastated the airport in Tacloban City last year.
“Clark is waiting,” Tan told Pampanga businessmen attending a talk on climate change on Thursday. He said all CRK needed were new terminals, equipment, all-weather roads and a modern railway.
Aéroports de Paris is doing a feasibility study for CRK’s low-cost carrier terminal worth P7.2 billion to be funded by the Department of Transportation and Communications.
More than 10 airlines operate domestic and international flights to and from CRK, while three companies do maintenance work on planes.
Guiao said it made “good business sense for SMC” to locate in Clark because it has already connected the Ilocos, Cordillera, Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon regions through the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx).
The 88-km TPLEx is linked to the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway and the North Luzon Expressway that were built by the national government and which are managed and operated by private corporations.
Almost half of the stretch of TPLEx has been opened, reducing travel time to and from northern Luzon.
Source: Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon