Ciao, Chichos



    Interior Secretary Mar Roxas’ salutation to Clark International Airport Corp. President-CEO Victor Jose “Chichos” Luciano turned out to be valediction for the latter, coming to know right there and then the end of his tenure as head honcho of the Clark airport. That was, Chichos said, some weeks ago.

    A classic there of Roxas mouthing Catullus’ ave atque vale – I salute you and goodbye – in both its literal meaning and figurative sense. Mister Kargador though won’t still get my vote.

    “Bowing out with honor.” So Chichos titled his valedictory address, delivered – if only in hard copies – at Monday’s rush-rush luncheonconference with local media at the Mesa restaurant in Clark Freeport.

    Mission accomplished. Chichos inferred of the developments he effected at the Clark airport that commenced even before he took over CIAC’s helm, with Asiana Airlines, where he once sat as top executive, becoming Clark airport’s first full service international passenger airline in 2003.

    Asiana Airlines, so it is publicly conceded, opened the once nesting hub of migratory birds to new routes and increased frequencies with Tiger Airways, AirAsia Berhad, Cebu Pacific, Jin Air, Seair, Dragon Air, Qatar Airways – as listed in Chichos’ statement.

    Unlisted – delisted wittingly? – were Asian Spirit, Zest Air and Airphil Express that for a time flew the Clark skies too; Philippines AirAsia that hubbed at Clark which gave stiff competition to CebPac in number of destinations from Clark only to move to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport; and Emirates that in October 2013 started daily Dubai-Clark-Dubai flights and altogether stopped in May 2014.

    Ain‘t those some sort of accomplishments too? Then, there is Chichos’ pride and joy – the Clark airport terminal which Phase 2 expansion afforded a capacity of five million passengers.

    It was too within Chichos’ term that the sum of P1.2 billion – from a total of P7.2 billion – has been allotted in the 2015 national budget for a second passenger terminal at Clark. No mal pagador, indeed, some selfliquidation if not ROI already earned with CIAC’s P500-million loan from the Veterans Bank to upgrade the airport to meet the needs of UPS already paid by the very income raised from UPS’ Clark operations.

    Far from allegations that the Clark airport is off Malacañang’s radar, Luciano said the Aquino administration had provided some P750 million worth of upgrades at the airport, including navigational aids, boarding bridge, two fire trucks currently being assembled in Austria and would be the only ones of their kind in the country.

    Cited too in Chichos’ list are the Berthaphil IV Logistics Park, the $3-million Gate Gourmet/ Miascor Inflight Catering Services, SIA Engineering MRO Facility, and Metrojet MRO Facility.

    All these developments during the incumbency of Chichos earning merits and accolades that included: ISO 9001:2008-Clark International Passenger Facilitation Process; Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) Low Cost Airport of the Year 2006; Airport of the Year Award for airport serving below 15 million annual passengers category at the 2008 Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific Aerospace and Defense Awards on March 14, 2008; 3rd Best Airport Zone by fDi Magazine of UK (2012); and 2013 Routes Airport Marketing Award (Under 20 Million Passengers category) in February 2013, Mumbai India.

    Mission Accomplished. From merely 7,000 passengers in 2003, the Clark airport served 470,867 passengers in 2006, soaring to over a million passengers now. Mission accomplished, indeed.

    The advocacy group Pinoy Gumising Ka Movement agrees – for the first, and maybe, only time – with Roxas’ assessment of Chichos’ tenure at Clark. For totally different reasons though. From where PGKM stands, Chichos accomplished the mission set by the dragons of Imperial Manila in conspiracy with Roxas and his Liberal Party lackey, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, to sabotage the full development of the Clark International Airport as the country’s premier international gateway.

    Proofs positive of which, among others: the abandonment of Clark by airlines, notably Emirates and Philippines AirAsia; the subtraction, instead of addition, much less multiplication, of destinations from Clark – no more Bangkok, Kota Kinabalu, Taipei and Macau; no more Davao and Puerto Princesa; the reduction of the announced DOTC funding of P7.2 billion for the airport terminal to the now only P1.2 billion; the configuration of the Phase 2 expansion of the terminal to easy crowding; the leasing of sites to non-aviation related industries that constrict the expanse of the civil aviation area.

    Mission accomplished. In the end, it boils down to the “Is the glass half-empty or halffull?” perspective. Whichever, the more pressing matter now is: Whither Clark goeth after Chichos? With previous CIAC presidents-CEOs largely dumped to the dustbin of the unremarkable, the long-staying Chichos set some standards of accomplishments – no matter the endless debate this may raise – thereby becoming some kind of a benchmarker.

    With virtually nothing to show but kinship with the appointing authority, Chichos’ replacement, presidential cousin Egmidio “Dino” Tanjuatco, Jr. may end up no more than a CIAC benchwarmer.


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