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Clark hub design too big—Abaya

By Alena Mae S. Flores | Dec. 31, 2014 at 11:30pm [ BusinessWorld Online ]

The Transportation Department said it plans to construct the P7.2-billion Clark International Airport budget terminal in phases to accommodate the “too big” design of Aeroports De Paris of France.

“Aéroports de Paris designed a huge terminal that is beyond what we thought would be the actual demand. Our struggle, we don’t need it yet,” Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said.

Abaya said as the French firm refused to modify the design, the government would instead build the project in Pampanga province in several phases.

“We should do it in phases. At first, they don’t want to revise it. We think it is too big a design,” he said.

More than 1 million passengers currently use Clark International Airport annually, a figure that is expected to rise dramatically in the coming years as the government aims to decongest Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Metro Manila.

The department tapped Aeroports de Paris to conduct the feasibility study of the Clark budget terminal as part of the government’s move to decongest Naia.

Aeroports De Paris was tasked to conduct the feasibility study for the master plan as well as the design of the budget terminal building that would be set up at the 2,367-hectare Clark Civil Aviation Complex.

“The compromise is, we’ll still honor the design but we construct in phases as the demand comes in, we will build it. Next year [2015], we have funding for the first phase,” Abaya said.

The new budget terminal building is estimated to cost P7.2 billion, with a passenger capacity of 15 million annually.

The government decided to keep Naia as Luzon’s premier gateway, while expanding the capacity of Clark as the alternative hub.

Investors such as San Miguel Corp. offered to build another airport on reclaimed portions of Manila Bay, but the proposal was shelved after the conglomerate divested from flag carrier Philippine Airlines.

“We recognize that Naia and Clark both have significant impacts to the country’s economic growth, particularly in terms of tourism and logistics. In line with this, we are working to maximize the capacity of Naia and to further develop that of Clark,” Abaya said earlier.

Abaya said “the medium term plan is to operate both Naia and Clark to serve Luzon.”

“To further support this, a feasibility study is also being developed for the North-South commuter railway, which will make Clark more accessible from Metro Manila,” he said.

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