By Billy Begas
House Minority Leader and 4Ps party-list Rep. Marcelino Libanan urged the government to transfer 50% of the flights from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to Clark International Airport (CIA) to decongest the busiest airport in the country.
Libanan said transferring the flights would reduce the number of canceled, diverted, or delayed flights in the event of a sudden emergency in either gateway.
He said the transfer of the flights could be done by 2025.
“We have no choice but to fully harness Clark, which has been up and running for years. Clark is capable of operating more flights, offers good connectivity to Metro Manila via modern expressways, and is only 90 kilometers away from Quezon City,” Libanan said.
Libanan noted that while the civil aviation officials have told the House Committee on Transportation in a briefing last week that NAIA’s air traffic system is now fully functioning, they also admitted that they do not have a backup system at the moment.
“If we do not take full advantage of Clark as an alternate gateway, there will be chaos at NAIA once global air travel explodes,” Libanan warned.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) sees international traveler numbers reaching 82% of the pre-pandemic level this year, 92% in 2024, and 101% in 2025.
Libanan also noted that the state-run Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), had invested P10 billion to fully develop Clark as an alternate gateway “precisely to alleviate congestion at NAIA and accommodate growing passenger traffic.”
He added that the Department of Transportation (DOTr) also spent billions of pesos to modernize Clark.
Libanan expressed his belief that privatizing NAIA “won’t solve the airport’s congestion.”
“NAIA’s problem is lack of land for expansion. No new parallel runway can be built there because the area around the airport is already highly urbanized,” Libanan said.
The solon also noted the study conducted by the International Finance Corp. (IFC) stating that “Clark is the only immediate solution to address congestion in NAIA and expand airport capacity serving the Greater Capital Region (comprising Metro Manila, Southern Tagalog, and Central Luzon).”