CIA way off pax target

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    CLARK FREEPORT – Passenger numbers continue to fall at the Clark International Airport here, the optimism of the Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) notwithstanding.

    While CIAC is eyeing a 150 percent increase in passenger volume in the next two years, benchmarked from its 1.2 million passengers in 2013, the actual numbers are “far, far from encouraging” according to a CIAC source who requested for anonymity for lack of authority to speak to media.

    Citing reports from the Bureau of Immigration, the source said the first two months of 2015 showed a “continuous downtrend” in passenger volume at the CIA, with a total of 34,569 for January, reduced to 28,239 in February.

    The same period last year showed passenger numbers at “much higher” 40,437 and 34,075. Of the airlines servicing international routes, Cebu Pacific Air topped passenger volume with 7,123 in January, though decreasing to 5,767 in February. Its sister airline, Tigerair Philippines coming in second with 7,071 and 6,563 for the same period.

    Jin Air is third with 5,249 and 3,890. Followed by Qatar Airways, which registered the smallest dip – from 4,990 in January to 4,899 in February.

    Asiana is fifth at 4,944 and 3,411. Dragon air registered 1,853 and 836.

    With least passenger volume is AirAsia Malaysia Berhad with 1,649 and 1,419.

    The figures were crosschecked with those of the Department of Tourism Region 3 office and matched.

    “With 28 flights per week for CebPac and 48 for Tigerair, these understandably top passenger volume,” said the source, lamenting how AirAsia “lost its ground when it left Clark in 2013.”

    In 2013, the CIA managed to achieve a passenger volume of 1.2 million, despite the suspension of flights of Emirates Airlinea and Philippines AirAsia and AirAsia Malaysia Berhad.

    It was in 2012 that the CIA achieved its highest passenger volume at 1.3 million.

    In 2014, it managed a “measly” 877,757.

    Of late, the CIAC said it would “focus greater efforts” to attract more passengers to use the CIA instead of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

    “Clark has its own catchment area which I think needs to be tapped in order as to attract more passengers to come to the airport,” said CIAC President-CEO Emigdio Tanjuatco III.

    “Based on studies, there are at least 1.5 million passengers coming from Regions 1, 2, 3 and the northern part of the National Capital Region who would rather go to NAIA for the reason that they are not aware that there is the Clark International Airport,” Tanjuatco explained.

    The CIAC has since undertaken marketing missions in Northern Luzon and established passenger lounges in transport hubs at malls.

    Initiatives which business and advocacy groups here however dubbed as “patchwork that could hardly raise passenger volume art Clark a notch.”

    It is generally believed here that for Clark airport to “thrive” what is needed is a policy statement by the Aquino administration declaring the CIA as premier international gateway, and the infrastructure that goes along with that declaration.

    “Sadly, that is something that will be too taxing to the mind of this Aquino ‘maldaministration’,” said a businessman.

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