Today's Punto
Today's Punto
Feature Article
China Eastern to fly via Clark
By Ashley Manabat

Jul 11, 2017

CLARK INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT – Starting October 18, China’s second largest carrier by passenger numbers will begin flights from Clark to Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport.

This was confirmed by China Eastern Airlines (CEA) on Thursday as the announcement came on the heels of a successful deal between the Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) and CEA to augment its flight network and use the Clark airport as one of its global hubs.

CEA is a legacy carrier with a strong presence on routes in Asia, North America and Australia and offers first class and business class seating including a frequent-fl yer program.

“The great news is that travelers from North and Central Luzon may now fl y CEA from Clark to Shanghai and easily connect to the US and other major destinations in Europe and Asia and other international routes,” said Alexander Cauguiran, CIAC OIC.

The airport logged in a total of 6,205 international and domestic flights with 950,732 passengers for local and foreign routes in 2016.

After President Duterte called for the greater utilization of the Clark airport there has been an increase in flight and passenger traffic.

From January to May 2017, Clark airport already registered 632,713 passengers and 4,603 domestic and international flights. Clark currently has 130 international flights and 114 domestic flights weekly. Passenger traffic is projected to reach 1.5 million by end of 2017.

Earlier, a CEA representative said the airline is keen on mounting flights via Clark as it is “encouraged by its marketability and the increasing number of its local destinations.”

“CEA also targets mostly business travelers and Chinese family tourists who wish to visit popular local destinations and with the influx of Chinese tourists will boost the local hotel industry and business communities in North and Central Luzon,” Cauguiran said.

3rd largest market

The Department of Tourism (DOT) counts China as the third largest market of Philippine tourism. Around 630,000 Chinese tourists visited the Philippines from January to November 2016 but with warmer ties with Beijing, the DOT expects this number of arrivals to double by the end of 2017.

In addition to expanding its commercial horizons, the construction of CRK’s new terminal- building that can take in eight million passengers annually is scheduled to be finished by the first quarter of 2020.

The project is spearheaded by Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade and Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) President and CEO Vivencio “Vince” Dizon.

According to Cauguiran, negotiations for direct flights from Clark to the US, Japan, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Taiwan and Thailand are ongoing.

More flights urged

This developed as business leaders in Pampanga have urged airlines to mount additional domestic and international flights at this airport in a bid to lure more tourists to visit the country and at the same time help ease the congestion in Metro Manila.

“We hope to see more flights at Clark airport especially routes to the US and Europe as CRK offers numerous destinations in the country that are attractive to tourists and investments,” Arni Valdes, president of the Metro Angeles Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc., said at the sidelines during a forum with representatives of CIAC held recently in Angeles City.

MJ Olidan, president of the Hotel and Restaurants Association in Pampanga (HARP) said their group hopes that airlines “will seriously consider adding North America flights via CRK.”

“Hotels and restaurants in Central Luzon are excited with the developments taking place (at CRK) and we hope to entice more passengers from the north (of the Philippines) and to attract more tourists to visit the country via Clark,” Olidan added.

The Alliance of Travel and Tour Agencies of Pampanga (ATTAP) also hopes to see additional CRK-Tacloban flights and the return of the CRK-Kuala Lumpur and CRK-Kota Kinabalu routes.

“Clark’s development and the Manila-Clark railway will mostly benefit the business and tourism sectors and these pose a huge challenge to us to aggressively promote Clark airport and to attract more tourists,” Gilda Padua, ATTAP’s past president, said.

While travelers from Metro Manila up to Bicol in the south use NAIA, CRK caters to those from Northern and Central Luzon, according to Cauguiran.

The CIAC chief added that out of the almost 37 million passengers that used NAIA in 2015, up to 27 percent came from Northern and Central Luzon, the source of Clark’s main catchment population.

Upbeat

Francisco Villanueva, MACCII chairman, said the business sector is “upbeat on upcoming projects such as the (Manila-Clark) railway and the new passenger terminal that will attract more investors and will benefit the whole country.”

In his first State of the Nation Address in 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte mentioned Clark as an alternative airport that can be utilized to shift some operations of domestic and international airlines, a plan that has the support of the business sector in Pampanga, according to businessman Renato Tayag, MACCII’s past president.

“Clark is the airport of the North and its full potential must be utilized. This has been MACCII’s advocacy for a long time and that is why we urge more airlines to mount more flights here,” Tayag added.

Earlier, an executive of flag-carrier Philippine Airlines said the overall objective was to assist in the government’s drive to ease congestion at NAIA.

“This is also a venue for PAL to grow. If we will just depend on the available capacity of NAIA, we cannot grow much anymore,” PAL President Jaime Bautista, said.

Aside from the flag carrier, airlines that mount international and domestic flights at CRK are Cathay Pacific, Cebu Pacific, Emirates, Jin Air, Qatar Airways, Tiger Air, Air Asia, Air Swift, AlphaLand, and Wakay Air.






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