PAL pins hopes on Clark airport
- Ric Sapnu, () - February 18, 2008 - 12:00am

CLARK FREEPORT – Philippine Air Lines (PAL) officials led by Lucio Tan are banking on the viability of the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) as the group prepares “to face the challenges of the aviation industry in the 21st century.”

The Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) signed last week a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Macroasia Corp. and PAL group for the development of a 30-hectare area in the Clark civil aviation complex.

CIAC president and CEO Victor Jose I. Luciano said “CIAC is fortunate to have Macroasia Corp. in the Clark civil aviation complex because we know how its people passionately pursue ‘efficiency, strategic focus and character’ in its aviation-related businesses which include aircraft maintenance, repairs and overhaul, charter flight services, airport ground handling services and in-flight catering services.”

“We know well that Macroasia Corp. will play an important role in the development of the DMIA into a world-class international airport and a megalogistics hub and services as it extend sterling services in compliance with world standards,” said Luciano.

“This could be the start of our long-standing partnership that may eventually see the entry of the country’s flag carrier – the Philippine Air Lines and its affiliates to serve other long-haul airliners he added.

Macroasia president and CEO Joseph Chua noted that the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) “is really saturated” and saw the need to locate in the 2,500-hectare DMIA, which is four times the size of NAIA. At least $50 million will be initially infused on the development of a ground handling and inflight catering facilities, according to Chua.

“We envision Clark to be a globally-competitive aviation hub, fully equipped and complemented by the ingenuity and skill of the Filipino workers, that considers as paramount the interest of the Philippines and its own aviation players (the local airlines and its service providers) in the world aviation market,” said Chua.

Chua said the MOU “embodies a framework for development in Philippine aviation services, backed by four companies which are among the aviation pillars in our country: CIAC as the airport operator and administrative provider, PAL as the commercial pillar, Macroasia and its subsidiaries, and Lufthansa Technik Philippines as base service providers.”

“Our collective efforts start a giant step forward as we prepare to face the challenges of the aviation industry in the 21st century,” said Chua.

“We will come out with a development plan and sign a lease agreement as soon as possible,” said Chua.

Asked when PAL will start flying out of DMIA, PAL president and COO  Jaime Bautista said “if all the support systems are there we will start flying.” Bautista said their entry in Clark “will be done in phases to complement the master plan of Clark (airport).”

Luciano noted that the main concern of PAL which is the in-flight catering will be finished by the 2nd quarter of this year.

“By the time the DMIA is  operational, the facilities of Macroasia and its affiliates are also operational,” said Bautista. “Gagawin nating sabay and development.” Bautista said DMIA will be a major hub in two years.

Luciano and Chua had inked an MOU in the presence of Bautista, Lufthansa Technik Philippines president and CEO Bernhard Krueger-Sprenger, CIAC chairman Nestor Mangio and other top PAL and CIAC officials.

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