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No decision yet on proposal for Clark transfer — Abaya

Written by  Ed Velasco
Monday, 06 May 2013 00:00 [ ]

The proposal to transfer at least half of international and domestic flights from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) to Clark International Airport (Cia) remains in the air, Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said.

This is after he said that only President Aquino has the final answer if the proposal will be implemented or not. Last April 25, Abaya reiterated that he is pushing his earlier intention to let at least half of flights be brought to Clark, citing too crowded airspace and tarmac at the country’s premier international airport.

But in his reply to The Tribune when asked when his proposal will materialize, it was proven that the proposal is only in the air, literally.

“Difficult to answer your questions because we don’t have the answers to those yet. We still have to go to the president,” Abaya, who is also the vice president of the ruling Liberal Party, admitted to The Tribune in a text message.

In his speech befofe members of the Makati Business Club, the 46-year-old former US Navy official gave three options to President Aquino on how to solve the damming problems at Naia: 

* Shutdown Naia and, possibly, sell it. This means the government will make Clark the country’s main gateway;
* Create a long-term plan for Clark and maximize Naia. The option involves the possible closure of Naia by 2025 and replace it with another airport located 30 minutes away from the Naia’s present location; and
* Dual airport system where Naia and Clark will operate together until such time when a decision will be reached to replace Naia.

He also cited the possibility of expanding Naia through bringing some flights to the Danilo Atienza airbase (used to be Sangley Point) in Cavite City or reclaim at least 200 hectares in Laguna de Bay or Manila Bay to build a new international airport plus tarmac. Incidentally, Clark and Sangley were both former US military bases.

One of the groups seeking for some flights to be brought to CIA is the Center for Strategic Initiatives (CSI), a private think tank. 

CSI president Renato Diaz said the government will cause two positive things to passengers when some flights are diverted outside NAIA 1 and 2.

First, the too crowded situation at NAIA will be lessened and second, at least one fourth of the population of Luzon will be happier since they don’t live in the National Capital Region but in Central and Northern Luzon.

“If CIA will be utilized as alternate airport, then the Philippines can be considered having two international airports. First is NAIA, which will be considered the South International Airport while CIA will be considered the North International Airport,” Diaz told The Tribune in an earlier interview. 

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