(Lance Gokongwei bullish on Clark Airport. Photo by Bong Lacson)
CLARK FREEPORT – Philippine low-cost carrier, Cebu Pacifi c (CEB), is poised to become the country’s largest airline operator out of the Clark airport.
CEB president and CEO Lance Y. Gokongwei said last week that by October, CEB will be starting the Clark-Puerto Princesa flights and by the end of December, CEB will be the largest airline operator out of Clark.
He said CEB will fly to seven domestic and four international destinations, about 170 flights per week with almost 30 percent into Clark.
“We’re very eager to grow here because we inaugurated Clark in 2006 and it is now our 13th year and we are very supportive of Clark as a tourists and business destination,” Gokongwei said.
He said next year CEB will add even more destinations as it is set to receive seven more aircraft this year and about 15 more in the next five years.
“So definitely Clark is in our plans,” he added especially with the opening of the new Clark passenger terminal which has a capacity of eight million passengers plus the original four million.
“So, a lot of room to grow. I do expect that Clark will be our fastest growing hub in the next five years and I think it will easily triple in the next five years,” Gokongwei said.
“We can see now that Clark itself is growing and it is the center of a huge catchment within three hours of here there’s 25 million people,” he noted.
“I think the infrastructure to Clark has definitely improved and by 2024 and 2025 with the railway, it’s going to grow and the constraints in NAIA are also supporting the growth of Clark,” he observed.
“Because if you want to serve Luzon or you want an international hub to the Visayas and Mindanao, then Clark is the place to do it,” he added.
CEB is the biggest airline with four international destinations out of Clark but domestically, it’s Philippine Airlines,” said Alexander Lao, CebGo president and CEO.
CEB flies out of Clark to Cebu, Davao, Boracay, Tagbilaran, Bacolod, Iloilo and soon Puerto Princesa domestically. “Our strategy is to keep increasing the number of frequencies on those thicker routes,” Lao said.
CEB’s future plans include making the four times weekly Narita flights to daily and mount flights to Kansai since it is the second largest city in Japan.
However, long haul flights out of Clark are not yet in the horizon for CEB because “it is not viable for us,” Gokongwei said.
“But I think there is enough catchment basin in this area to service domestic and short haul international flights,” he added.