THOUSANDS OF overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Central Luzon will hugely benefit from using the Clark airport, the executive of the government-run Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) said during the third leg of the CIAC North Philippines Roadshow in Cabanatuan City on Friday.
“Clark airport’s proximity, convenience and security will attract thousands of OFWs and their families here in Nueva Ecija and nearby provinces,” Alexander Cauguiran, CIAC president and chief executive officer, said, citing that an estimated 360,000 OFWs come from Central Luzon.
Cauguiran said that based on 2015 government data, top destinations of OFWs are United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Singapore, and Qatar, flights which are mostly available with several airlines at Clark airport (CRK).
CRK hosts Emirates Airlines via Dubai, Qatar Airways via Doha, Cebu Pacific Air via Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and domestic flights to Cebu, Asiana Airlines via Incheon, Jin Air via Incheon and Busan, along with Cathay Dragon via Hong Kong and Tiger Air via Singapore.
Cauguiran likewise announced negotiations are on-going with China Eastern airlines for the Clark-Shanghai route which is expected to connect to numerous cities in Europe, Asia and North America.
Central Luzon is the country’s second largest group of OFWs which accounts to about 15 percent, second only to Calabarzon with the biggest share of 18 percent, from the estimated 2.4 million documented overseas workers around the world.
“An OFW from Nueva Ecija, for example, would rather travel the short distance of 80 kilometers from Cabanatuan City to Clark, than to endure 170 kilometers going to the congested EDSA en route to the overcrowded Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila,” Cauguiran said, adding that CIAC’s thrust is to increase passenger traffic in CRK while helping ease the congestion at the NAIA and Metro Manila.
Negotiations are likewise underway with bus and shuttle companies and other transport groups to provide point-to-point transport services from the CRK passenger terminal building to provinces in Central and Northern Luzon which will augment the existing shuttle services to and from Quezon City, and from CRK to Dau (Mabalacat City), the hub of major bus companies traveling north, Cauguiran added.
The construction of a new Clark airport terminal for domestic and international travelers with an 8-million-passenger capacity is included in CIAC’s Master Development Plan.
The new terminal building is the first of four design phases and will be finished before the term of President Rodrigo Duterte ends. The project is part of the Duterte administration’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ infrastructure development thrust in the next five-and-a-half years.
Air Asia will likewise launch thrice weekly Clark-Kalibo flights starting March 27 and four times weekly flights to and from Davao by April 22, augmenting the operations of Philippine Airlines whose domestic flights include CRK to Caticlan, Cebu, Davao, as well as international flights via Incheon in South Korea.
On March 26, the flag carrier will start servicing a Palawan route via Puerto Princesa and Busuanga.
International cargo service giants FedEx and UPS likewise mount a weekly average of 23 international and domestic cargo flights at CRK.