Saturday, March 26, 2011

Budget carrier chooses Clark for Philippines hub


Asian low-cost carrier AirAsia has chosen Clark as its hub in the Philippines, as the country's aviation links shift further from the country's capital Manila.

The Filipino affiliate of Malaysia-based AirAsia announced March 24 that Clark's Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, some 80 km from Manila, is to become its hub from late this year, likely to significantly boost the airport's already-soaring numbers.

Clark International Airport, which serves the city of Angeles in Pampanga province, is already the base for Philippines-based budget carrier Cebu Pacific and has seen passenger movements grow by about a hundred fold in less than a decade - from just under 8,000 passengers in 2003 to approximately 600,000 in 2009.

Under current ambitious expansion plans, it will handle a million passengers this year and is set to overtake Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport as the country's main hub - under the current development plan, it will be capable of processing 80 million passengers annually by 2025.

AirAsia, the largest low-cost carrier in Asia, said that the choice of Clark as its 13th regional hub underlined its commitment to developing transportation and tourism hubs outside Manila, and that the airport would offer flights to popular destinations including Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Thailand, Korea and Japan.

The decision is likely to provide a boost to the tourism in the Clark Freeport Zone, once the US's largest overseas military installation but now a rapidly-growing destination.

The region is home to several theme parks, holiday resorts, golf courses and the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, which attracts over 100,000 tourists from 25 countries for the annual festival in February.

2. Aviation body gets go-ahead to hire 3,500
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines has obtained Malacanang’s go-ahead to absorb 3,500 employees of its predecessor, the defunct Air Transportation Office.

Director General Ramon Gutierrez said the additional manpower can help speed up the work that the aviation authority has to do to upgrade the Philippines’ international status from category 2 to category 1.

The US Federal Aviation Administration downgraded the country to category 2 status in November 2007, while the European Union blacklisted Philippine air carriers, largely a result of the local aviation office’s failure to address safety and technical issues.

Gutierrez said that with the globalized economy, the need to travel is no longer a luxury but a necessity. Last year, 2.5 billion passengers travelled by air, while 46 million tons of cargos were airlifted, Gutierrez said in a speech during the authority’s 3rd anniversary celebration.

DOTC Undersecretary Glicerio V. Sicat called on the authority to strive to upgrade the Philippines’ international status. “The nation is counting on you to do all these things because the responsibility lies with you, the few. And the price of failure is simply too high”.

3. Philippine leader vows to open up aviation sector
(AFP) – Mar 10, 2011
SINGAPORE — Philippine President Benigno Aquino has vowed to open up his country's aviation sector to foreign competition in a bid to boost tourism, and appealed for greater Singaporean investment.
Speaking to business leaders in Singapore, Aquino said his government was finalising a decree that will allow foreign airlines to fly to major destinations in the country.
The executive order "will liberalise the entry of foreign carriers in a way that will not decimate our local carriers," said Aquino, who was elected nearly a year ago on promises to reform the economy and tackle corruption.
"Under this order, we will allow foreign carriers to fly into key destinations in the Philippines."
The Philippines has lagged behind Southeast Asian neighbours in the race to attract tourists despite boasting white-sand beaches, exotic diving spots and other natural wonders, partly because of poor transport across the archipelago of more than 7,000 islands.
Aquino also said he had given aviation officials one year to resolve issues that led Europe to ban Philippine carriers from flying to the continent and prompted a downgrade by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
"We are also addressing technical and regulatory issues that have been allowed to worsen in the previous decade. This led to the banning of Philippine aviation into Europe and the downgrading of Philippine carriers to category 2 under US FAA regulations," said Aquino.
"Once these bottlenecks have been resolved we will embark on an aggressive marketing campaign that will brand and sell the Philippines as a key tourist destination in the outside world."
Philippine carriers were stopped from expanding services to the United States in 2008 and banned from Europe in March 2010 over concerns airline safety was not in line with international standards.
Aquino also urged Singaporean businesses to take part in the Philippines' growth story.
"We invite all of you to be part of our own reconstruction. Your government has already signified its willingness to help a brother nation reach the same heights that you have reached," he said, noting that his country grew 7.3 percent last year.
Aquino is the son of Philippine democracy champion and former president Corazon Aquino. He won the May 2010 elections on a platform to fight corruption, which has plagued the Southeast Asian nation for decades.






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