MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) is considering a number of options for the Philippine airport system including the plans to develop two major gateways for the country.
Speaking before the members of the Makati Business Club on Thursday, DOTC Secretary Joseph Abaya revealed three proposals, with the first one involving a single airport system.
With this scheme, the government will close the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and develop the Clark International Airport in Pampanga.
The second option is to make a dual airport system, where the government will develop the Clark airport while maximizing operations at the NAIA through 2025 and also look for a new gateway site 30 minutes away from the said airport.
The third option also involves a dual system, where the government will develop both the Clark airport and the NAIA, while considering an alternative airport.
“Previously, the direction was to move all NAIA’s current operations to Clark International Airport within the next 5 to 7 years. What is clear now is that we need Clark to absorb some of the traffic in NAIA,” Abaya said.
Abaya noted that passenger demand keeps surging and in some places, two major airports are really needed.
“That steadily increasing demand is what we expect for Manila, especially with the [Department of Tourism] doing so well in drawing tourists to the country. We will be seeking approval from the President to aggressively expand and promote Clark,” Abaya said.
Abaya also clarified that the ongoing upgrades in NAIA will still be continued while the Clark airport is being expanded.
“The studies we’ve been doing show that both can operate at the same time without compromising commercial viability,” Abaya said.
“If you operate two airports, you should allow both to grow,” he also told reporters.
He said some of the improvements being done in NAIA will be completed within the year. Meanwhile, the structural retrofitting of Terminal 1 and the full operationalization of Terminal 3 will continue into 2014.
In 2012, the NAIA Terminal 1 was cited as the worst airport in Asia by travel website Sleeping in Airports.
The website complained about the airport’s collapsing ceilings, overcrowding, and rampant bribery, among other issues.
On the other hand, the Clark International Airport was internationally recognized last month when it won the “2013 Routes Airport Marketing Award – Under 20 Million Passengers” category, besting six other international airports.