Clark Airport Philippines, located just north of Manila, formally called Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) is being further expanded under local airport authorities’ determined program of making it the premier international gateway of the Philippines.
The initial expansion program of DMIA consisting of improving its passenger terminal with an appropriation of P150 million was inaugurated by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The terminal was expanded to increase its annual capacity from 500,000 to about two million.
Clark Airport Philippines posted at least 533,619 domestic and international passengers and the number of passengers is steadily increasing by the year. Over 480,000 passengers were re-posted 230 international flights with 49,546 passengers; 1,188 flights with 224,497 passengers (2005); 2,065 international flights with 470,867 passengers (2006).
For its domestic flights, DMIA recorded 432 domestic flights with 9,442 passengers in 2004; 455 flights with 7,816 passengers in 2005; and 433 flights with 17,889 passengers.
Clark Airport Philippines president/CEO Victor Jose I. Luciano said DMIA is increasing its capacity in a bid to service the continued growth in passenger volume in the airport.
Most of the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in nearby Asian countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Macau and Hong Kong are passing through DMIA because of the presence of budget airlines. The social cost to Filipinos leaving for jobs abroad is lessened because families can now visit their loved ones abroad because of the presence of cheap flights at DMIA.
“Our Filipino workers heading overseas no longer have to travel all the way to Manila to catch their flights because DMIA is right at their door step,” said Luciano.
“Cheap airfares also allow our beloved OFWs to go home as often as they want. Now air travel is available to everybody,” said Luciano, urging residents of Central and North Luzon to travel via Clark Airport Philippines. “There is no heavy traffic, no heat. It is more convenient and a lot cheaper.”
Citing its contribution to the regional aviation industry, the Center for Asia-Pacific Aviation (CAPA) recognized DMIA as “Low Cost Airport of the Year.” Luciano received the plaque of recognition from CAPA Executive Chairman Peter Habison during the Aviation Outlook Summit in Singapore last year.
A year after the CAPA citation, Luciano returned to Singapore to receive the “Airport of the Year” Award for airport servicing below 15 million annual passengers category at the Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific Aerospace and Defense Awards.
The Frost & Sullivan Award stated: “From humble beginnings of serving only charter flights, the recipient's growth has been nothing short of remarkable. It has positioned itself to become the future primary airport serving the surrounding major cities. The recipient’s performance has raised its profile amongst the industry and has created a strong platform towards the coming years.
“In the last two years, Clark Airport Philippines has come to have a life of its own,” Luciano said, noting that the global citations came at the time that the airport was experiencing an unprecedented growth in aviation-related projects and passenger volume.
DMIA caters to various air carriers operating at the 2,300 hectare Clark Airport Philippines Complex. Among them are Tiger Airways of Singapore flying Clark-Singapore, Air Asia of Malaysia Clark-Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu, Asiana Airlines of Korea via Clark-Incheon in South Korea; and local carrier Cebu Pacific Air via Clark-Hong Kong, Thailand, Macau and Singapore. South East Asian Airlines (SeaAir) also flies via Clark-Caticlan.
Luciano has also been successful in getting separate seat entitlements for Clark in various air talks conducted here and overseas. New and increased seats entitlements had been inked with Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Finland, Russia and Cambodia.
Luciano said that according to thousands of passengers who have landed and departed from DMIA, most of them OFWs, they would not forget the many benefits they experienced in DMIA.
They said that they saved lots of pesos and time than using the airports in Metro Manila. They added that it is more convenient to pass through DMIA in going abroad.
Meanwhile, Luciano bared recently that the P4 billion terminal 2 project would be completed before the end of the term of President Arroyo.
Plans for the future are to establish a modern railway system that will link Clark Airport Philippines with Metro Manila.