Monday, July 28, 2008

Clark biggest winner in Thai-Philippine air accord

By Riza T. Olchondra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 07:29:00 07/26/2008

MANILA, Philippines—More opportunities have just opened for airlines seeking to fly from the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in the Clark Freeport, north of Manila, as an air agreement between the Philippines and Thailand was renewed, with Clark getting 8,600 passenger seats in capacity.

An equivalent number of passenger seats was allocated for Thai carriers going to Clark, bringing the Clark capacity to a total of 17,400 seats weekly.

Clark International Airport Authority (CIAC) president Victor Luciano told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the agreement presents great opportunity for the gateway as it can accommodate 14 passenger flights daily.

Cargo capacity was also boosted for Clark, from zero to 700 metric tons weekly.

Luciano also confirmed that there was no limitation on airline designation. This means that even non-flag carriers can fly there from multiple designations.

Other Philippine carriers, aside from flag carrier Philippine Airlines, can apply to fly between Clark and Bangkok, he said.

The additional allocations were not limited to Clark. Manila airports got 5,400 seats, up from 2,930, with cargo allocation of 300 metric tons, up from more than 200 previously.

Airports outside Clark and Manila were given 2,110 seats, up from 850.

The Civil Aeronautics Board said that while Thailand was not currently contributing as much tourism as Hong Kong was, with only about 26,000 Thai tourists a year coming to the Philippines, the potential for growth was great.

Traffic is expected to grow further at a pace of seven percent or more per year since capacity has increased and more gateways have been added.

Traffic would also get a boost if Cebu Pacific Air opened a hub in Clark.

Cebu Pacific earlier said it needed five destinations to be able to do so: Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. With Thailand opening up to Clark, all five destinations are now reachable from the Northern Luzon gateway.

Candice Iyog,Cebu Pacific vice president for marketing and product, declined to comment on the impact of the Philippine-Thai air agreement on the airline’s plans for Clark, saying Cebu Pacific had not received an official advice on the matter.

She did confirm that having all five destinations accessible via Clark would give Cebu Pacific the freedom to revisit plans to open a hub there.

The Philippine air services negotiating panel is led by the Department of Transportation and Communications and includes the Department of Foreign Affairs, Civil Aeronautics Board, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Tourism, and representatives of the airline industry. With editing by INQUIRER.net

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