Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) Congressman Win Gatchalian urged the government to use the Clark International Airport and the yet-to-be-built Sangley International Airport to address the worsening air traffic in the country as more flight delays are expected due to congestion during the holiday season.
Gatchalian pointed to Clark International Airport as an alternative to the already congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
“My suggestion is simple: Use Clark airport for international flights; the current NAIA for domestic flights and Sangley in Cavite for private planes,” said Gatchalian, a senior vice chair of the House Committees on Tourism and on Metro Manila Development.
The Valenzuela City lawmaker, however, said that if government will use Clark as the new international airport, a high-speed train system have to be built along the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) so that passengers coming from Manila as well as Northern Luzon will not be late for their flights.
“To boost the influx of passengers to Clark, a high-speed train should be built to ferry passengers to the airport. Singapore’s Changi Airport and Denmark’s Copenhagen Airport are both accessible by train,” explained Gatchalian.
Data from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines updated in March shows that nearly 16 million passengers for international flights and a little over 18 million for domestic flights went through the NAIA in 2014. A total of 183,816 passengers used NAIA for general aviation. Time-wise, 8.46 million passengers used NAIA in the 4th quarter.
“That another terminal is being planned to be built to decongest NAIA instead of maximizing the usage of existing facilities such as the Clark International Airport shows that taxpayers’ money is being badly managed,” said Gatchalian.
For the year 2014, more than 7.1 million international passengers arrived and departed in NAIA – Terminal 1, over its design capacity of six million passengers. In Terminal 2, which was designed to handle nine million passengers yearly, the number of arriving and departing international passengers last year reached almost 4.7 million passengers while domestic passengers reached nearly 3.1 million.
Almost 15.62 million passengers deluged the NAIA-3 in the previous year, which has the capacity of 13 million passengers annually. NAIA –Terminal 4 handled 3.58 million international and domestic passengers.
Meanwhile, the airport in Clark is suffering from a decline in passenger traffic with only 877,757 international and domestic passengers last year from 1.2 million in 2013 and 1.32 million in 2012, as showed in the 2014 annual report of Clark International Airport Corp.
The P435.9-billion Sangley International Airport, which is expected to handle 55 million passengers annually and will later be expanded to manage 130 million passengers, would not be open until 2025. (Monica Cantilero)