MANILA, Philippines - Business tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan said the country needs a new international airport, citing flight delays and aircraft congestion at premier Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) in Metro Manila.
“The country needs a new international airport. Clark [in Pampanga] is the best bet,” Pangilinan told a discussion with provincial journalists at Makati Shangri-La Hotel in Makati City last Thursday.
“I am a Capampangan [and that is why I support Clark],” he said earlier at a stockholders’ meeting of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. at Dusit Thani Hotel, also in Makati City. Capampangan refers to a native of Pampanga province in Central Luzon.
Pangilinan, who traces his roots to Apalit town of Pampanga, voiced his backing for full development of Clark International Airport (CIA) in the province as the country’s next international airport when asked if he is still interested in investing in a former United States military base in Pampanga.
He offered no kind words on the state of Naia, describing its runway as “shake, rattle and roll when you land.”
Last year after emerging from a meeting of Metro Pacific Investments Corp., Pangilinan expressed interest in building a second terminal for CIA. He said he also wants to invest in a planned high-speed rail system from Clark to Manila, budget terminal and city air terminal.
Clark International Airport Corp. (Ciac) President and CEO Victor Jose Luciano had disclosed that a new budget terminal is being proposed to be constructed at CIA, in addition to an existing terminal and the second CIA terminal.
Luciano said the proposed budget terminal is estimated to cost P8 billion, with an annual capacity of 10 million passengers.
According to Pangilinan, “terminals are just the obvious sites at airports.” He said airports should also have a radar system and other necessary facilities and equipment.
While he saw the need for reliable airports, Pangilinan conceded, “I understand that not all of them could have sophisticated equipment.”
Pinoy Gumising Ka Movement (PGKM), a Pampanga-based multisectoral group, has actively pushed for the development of Clark as next international airport, citing its superior runway, abundant space and surrounding infrastructure facilities such as the North Luzon Expressway and Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway. Commuters have access to the CIA from both expressways.
“MVP [Pangilinan] should really be allowed to develop Clark and its airport given his reputation as businessman. He is a Capampangan with pure and good intentions for his province mates,” PGKM Chairman Ruperto Cruz said.
CIA, whose terminal was named after late former President Diosdado Macapagal of Lubao, Pampanga, sits on a 2,400-hectare aviation complex. Naia, which boasts of Terminals 1,2 and 3, sits on 600 hectares.
It has one runway, with specifications as an alternative landing site for a space shuttle, and a parallel taxiway.
The largest and heaviest planes that have been built, including the AirBus A-380, could land at CIA.
In the past five years, local and international flights had been diverted from Naia to Clark due to weather conditions, poor visibility and other factors such as congestion at Naia.