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Philippine Real Estate News

Carrier wants direct flights to HK, China

Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific, one of the world’s largest airlines, may start flying out of the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in Clark Freeport, Pampanga.

Clark Development Corp. president and CEO Felipe Remollo said officials from the Chinese airline were in town earlier this week to discuss the possibility of daily flights from Clark.

“They are considering direct flights to Hong Kong and other cities in China. They want daily flights,” he said in an interview Thursday.

The largest

If plans push through, Cathay Pacific would be the largest airline to fly out of Clark, which is being groomed as the next premiere international gateway to replace the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in MetroManila.

DMIA is currently used mainly by local and international budget carriers.

Cebu Pacific of the Gokongwei group has named Clark as one of its three major hubs in the country, the other two being Manila and Cebu.

Malaysian giant Air Asia, through its newly formed subsidiary Air Asia Philippines, and Southeast Asian Airlines (SEAir), have also chosen Clark for their own hubs.

Several foreign airlines also call Clark their home in the Philippines.

These include Korea’s Aseana Airlines. Remollo said the increase in flights to Clark would help decongest NAIA, which is struggling with aging facilities and rapidly increasing passenger traffic.

More convenient

He said Clark is also a more convenient facility for people living in northern parts of Metro Manila all the way to provinces like Tarlac, Pangasinan, and Ilocos Sur and Norte.

“If you look at that catchment area, it accounts for about 25 million people. If someone living there needs to take a flight out of the country, it will be better to get to Clark than to go all the way to Pasay,” he said.

Cathay Pacific will be taking advantage of the government’s adoption of an “open skies” policy, which is part of the administration’s strategy to increase tourist arrivals to the Philippines.

‘Open skies’

The “open skies” policy, outlined by President Aquino in Executive Order 29, which was signed earlier this year, liberalizes the granting of international air rights for all points outside of Manila.

The government now expects to attract 10 million tourists annually to the Philippines by 2016.

This was a revision from the previous target of six million. Last year, just over three million foreigners visited the Philippines.

By: Paolo G. Montecillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Friday, December 16th, 2011