Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Sunday, October 01, 2006

US planners see Magapagal airport as RP gateway

By Dante M. Fabian -- Sun Star

CLARK ECOZONE -- A consortium of American airport planners and developers confirmed that Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) has the potential to be the country's premiere international airport because of its strategic location.

The US consortium led by Luis Perez, Houston Airport System Development Corporation (HASDC) interim president, made the confirmation last Friday after conducting an ocular survey and assessment of the sprawling 2,400-hectare civil aviation complex inside the Clark Special Economic Zone (CSEZ).

Perez toured the DMIA together with Edelana Van Marter, HASDC senior staff analyst; Earl Gales Jr., chairman of Jenkins/Gales & Martinez, Inc.; Mark Colopy, Jenkins/Gales & Martinez president; and Ted Blackerby of Pierce Goodwin Alexander and Linville (Pgal).

Gales said DMIA has the potential to be developed into a gateway "because of its strategic location," during a meeting with Clark Development Corporation (CDC) and Clark International Airport Corporation (Ciac) officials at the Ciac board room.

During the meeting, Gales was with incoming CDC president Levy Laus, Ciac president Victor Jose Luciano, Ciac executive vice president Alex Cauguiran, Ciac vice president Bienvenido Manga and Ciac vice president for business development Romeo Dyoco.

The visit of the US consortium was facilitated by Secretary Edgardo Pamintuan, Subic-Clark Area Development (Scad) chairman who is tasked by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to oversee the development of the Metro Luzon Beltway.

Perez, meanwhile, expressed the group's "high level of interest" to be actively involved in the development of DMIA as a gateway citing the wide experience of the consortium in similar projects in the US and other countries.

He said his group has undertaken over 100 airport development projects in the US and that they are developing Terminal 3 of McCarran Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada. A similar airport project is being undertaken in China.

Perez suggested to Ciac officials the possibility of adopting an appropriate "development model" for DMIA similar to the Dubai International Airport (DIA) model where several fees for incoming aircraft had been waived in a bid to attract a large volume of foreign air carriers and international passengers.

"Airlines don't serve airports, they serve markets," said Perez as he assured Clark officials that the US consortium is willing to "export their expertise" into the country.

"The Philippines poses a great opportunity for us because just like our presence in China. We would also want to empower Filipinos in modern airport development and management," he said.

Van Marter, for her part, revealed that Ciac may tap "non-airline revenues" to finance DMIA's development. "We can actually guide you on how to raise much-needed funds, probably even train people in Houston," she said.

One way to fund airport projects, according to her, is to ask private contracting companies to "put in their share of investment" in developing.

The consortium also stressed the need to have a "coordinated marketing plan for Clark and Subic Bay Freeport (SBF)" that will exploit their inherent advantages.

Luciano welcomed the interest of the US consortium in DMIA development. He said a "technical group" Ciac and CDC officers and managers will further coordinate with a counterpart team from the Americans to draft "possible areas of cooperation."

At present, there are 43 international passenger flights, 70 international and domestic cargo flights and 14 domestic passenger flights per week at DMIA. With the return of Cebu Pacific's daily Cebu-Clark flights, the number of domestic passenger flight frequencies, meanwhile, will go up to 21 flights per week.

The Clark airport is now undertaking the expansion of its existing passenger terminal to a capacity of at least two million passengers per year. It has also recently installed a new P5 million worth X-ray baggage machine and is scheduled to complete the installation of a dedicated Terminal Approach Radar (TAR) this November.


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