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Band music greets Clark Airport’s 5-millionth passenger

CLARK FREEPORT, Pampanga, Philippines – Band music struck the air shortly before midnight here last Wednesday, as officials welcomed the five-millionth passenger of the Clark International Airport (CIA) since it started operations in 2003.

“Our five-millionth passenger is another historic event for the Clark Airport since we started commercial operations,” said Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) president and chief executive officer Victor Jose Luciano.

“It is a phenomenal growth for the Clark Airport, as we expect more passengers and airlines to come in the coming years,” Luciano said.

The lucky passenger, Limwel Rivera, a resident of Taguig City and who arrived onboard a Cebu Pacific flight from Macau, was surprised when Luciano welcomed him and said he was the airport’s five-millionth passenger.

Rivera was then taken to the airport’s arrival area where an awarding ceremony was held.

He was given an overnight stay at Resorts World and Fontana Leisure Park, a roundtrip international flight to any destination covered by Cebu Pacific, a one-year exemption from the terminal fee, and free trips to Bohol and Cagayan de Oro City.

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Luciano said even before hosting passenger commercial flights in 2003, the Clark Airport has been a hub of cargo operations since April 2002 with the opening of the intra-Asia hub of United Parcel Service (UPS).

“The start of commercial flight operations in 2003 revolutionized travel and tourism in Clark and set off an influx of Korean tourists in the country, boosting tourist arrivals in Central and Northern Luzon,” Luciano said.

In June 2007, the Clark Airport counted its one-millionth passenger via Asiana Airlines, while last Oct. 24, it received its one-millionth passenger only for 2012 via AirAsia Philippines.

Luciano said he expects an increased and steady flow of travelers, tourists, balikbayan and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) this month and in December in time for the holidays.

“At the rate we are going, we expect to service close to 1.4 million passengers by yearend,” Luciano said.

Clark Airport is the only airport in the country that has eight budget carriers: AirAsia Philippines, AirAsia Berhad of Malaysia, South East Asian Airlines (Seair) in partnership with Tiger Airways of Singapore, Cebu Pacific Air, Jin Air, Airphil Express and Zest Air, while full-service carriers include Asiana Airlines and Hong Kong-based Dragonair.

The CIA was recently chosen as the Third Best Airport Zone in the world by the London-based Financial Times Group.

It was also named the Low-Cost Airport of the Year in 2006 by the Center for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA). It also bagged the Airport of the Year award for 2007 from Frost & Sullivan.

Luciano said Singapore’s SIA Engineering Philippines is set to break ground for the construction of two hangars this December to boost its already existing maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) service facility here.

The hangars will accommodate twin-aisle aircraft such as the B747 and B777 in addition to the existing hangar, put up in 2009, that services narrow-bodied aircraft.

SIA Engineering is a joint venture between SIA Engineering of Singapore and Cebu Pacific Air.

Last June 5, Hong Kong-based aviation company Metrojet Engineering, a leading business jet operator in Asia, inaugurated its $40-million MRO facility at the aviation complex in this freeport, Luciano said.

The CIAC management has proposed to officials of the Department of Transportation and Communications to set up a budget LCC terminal that would initially accommodate about 10 million passengers annually.

“The proposed budget LCC terminal will be similar to the budget terminal at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia,” Luciano said.

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