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Clark prepares to welcome first Emirates flight

CLARK FREEPORT,  Pampanga , Philippines  – Small Philippine flags will be waved, a rondalla will play festive native music, and fire trucks will train their hoses to form a watery welcoming arc as Emirate Airlines’ wide-bodied aircraft lands here at 4 p.m. on Oct. 1, carrying mostly overseas Filipino workers, for the first of its daily Dubai-Clark flights. 

“We at Emirates have always seen the need of our kababayan from northern Luzon who have to travel three or more hours just to get to Manila, so we decided to open up a new hub in Clark International Airport,” Emirates Philippines country manager Gigie Baroa said in press briefing here yesterday.

“Whether they are business-savvy individuals or OFWs, they are now assured a convenience of flights through our new route,” Baroa added.

The Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC), which manages the Clark International Airport (CIA), said the pilot of the inaugural Emirates flight here is expected to wave the Philippine flag from the cockpit soon after the aircraft lands amid the arcs of water from fire trucks.

Baroa said Emirates’ first daily flight here on Oct. 1 has almost been fully booked, carrying mostly OFWs whose families reside in provinces north of Metro Manila.

She said the same aircraft is expected to fly back with another batch of passengers to Dubai.

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Baroa said Emirates is expected to open to tourists “travel and leisure opportunities, especially for international travelers who would like to explore another side of the Philippines apart from Metro Manila.”   

“On the west coast from Subic, the Zambales coast is known for its laidback resorts and surfing spots. For a break from the beaches, one can head inland to Lake Mapanuepe, formed after Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991,” she said.

“Industrial parks, offices and residential developments are on the rise, fueling the area’s economic and tourism development. The First Philippine Industrial Park Inc. of the Lopez group is mulling to develop industry parks in Clark and Subic, complementing the rise in investor confidence,” she said.

Baroa said tourists flying in via Emirates could also head to Lingayen in Pangasinan  and visit the Hundred Islands, part of a national park covering almost 20 square kilometers in the Lingayen Gulf. 

“Further along the coast, La Union draws visitors, both foreign and local, for its surfing-perfect beaches. Found at the northeastern end of the Lingayen Gulf, La Union does not only provide access to magnificent waves and beaches but also boasts of trekking and climbing opportunities,” she added.

Baroa also cited Vigan City in Ilocos Sur as well as Laoag City and Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte as destinations for tourists from the Middle East.

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