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Clark airport not viable substitute for NAIA – SCB

MANILA, Philippines - Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) believes Clark International Airport is not a viable substitute for  Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) due to   poor transportation link to Metro Manila.

In a report released yesterday, SCB said: “Thus, we believe NAIA will remain congested and the dominant players could gain from higher airport slot shares.”

The report is entitled “Philippine Aviation, infrastructure constraints support incumbents.”

However, the Central Luzon Regional Development Council (RDC) wants immediate upgrading of Clark into a premier international airport.

Pampanga Representative-elect Oscar Rodriguez, Central Luzon RDC outgoing chairman, said the upgrading of Clark into a premier international airport lies heavily on the implementation of the fast transport system linking Clark and Metro Manila.

“We are glad that our taipans are considering the idea of a twin airport system,” he said.

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Rodriguez spoke at the end of the 9th full council meeting of the RDC in San Fernando City, Pampanga on Thursday.

Airport and transportation regulators informed SCB that the European Union and the US “are likely to lift safety bans in 2013.”

“In our view, this will benefit Cebu Pacific Air and the Philippine Airlines (PAL),” it said.

The aforementioned dominant players would reserve more capacity for building its international network and reduce its operations in the domestic market, it added.

SCB said that it maintains a positive view of the country’s low-cost carriers and Cebu Air.

The SCB report said infrastructure would decide the competitive advantages for the country’s low-cost carriers in the medium term.

“Despite strong traffic during 2008-12, available land space for expansion and concrete development plans, Clark will hardly become a viable gateway to Manila in the medium term due to the lack of efficient transportation connectivity,” the report  said.

The SCB report said the minimum three to four-hour drive from Clark to Metro Manila is unacceptable to the majority of travelers.

Building a high-speed rail system to link the two is financially demanding and clearly not on the government’s radar, the report added.

The SCB report said NAIA absorbs 19 or 20 of the busiest routes, consisting of 11 domestic and nine international routes.

“NAIA is severely congested, with peak hour congestions averaging 85 percent throughout the week and reaching 87 percent on Mondays to Fridays,” the report said.

“Several times a day, the number of aircraft movements in an hour pushes up against the 40-movement limit, at which point delays become inevitable and create a domino effect of disruption.”

Congestion at other Philippine airports remain benign to non-existent, despite all but 12 being unable to accommodate night flights as they lack sufficient lighting equipment, the report said.

Other busy Philippine airports are: Mactan-Cebu International Airport; Davao-Mati Airport; Iloilo Mandurriao Airport; Kalibo Airport; Puerto Princesa Airport; Bacolod Airport; Cagayan de Oro Lumbia Airport; Clark International Airport, and the Tacloban Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport.  – With Dino Balabo

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