Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade on Thursday presented to an international audience the Philippines’ airport development plan during one of the sessions that focuses on Dutertenomics at the ongoing World Economic Forum (WEF) on ASEAN in Cambodia’s capital.
Also known as Build, Build, Build, Dutertenomics is the Philippines’ economic and social development blueprint that aims to accelerate poverty reduction, and transform the Philippines into a high- to middle-income country to be among the largest economies in the world by 2022.
In the forum, Tugade said the total airport development of the Philippines consists of two phases — developing the existing and opening the possibility for new airports.
At present, there are two airports that serves as the main gateways into and outside the Philippines: the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila and the Clark International Airport in Pampanga.
According to the Philippine Transportation chief, the plan is to develop the terminals at Clark airport, a former American military base, since it has two state-of-the-art runways.
“The target to develop the Clark terminal in two to two-and-a-half years. This will be complemented by a railway project which will connect Clark to Manila in just 30 minutes,” Tugade said.
At present, travel time from Manila to Clark and vice versa takes around two to two-and-a-half hours.
As for NAIA, the Philippine official noted that the Philippines foremost airport would outlive its utilization because of the growth of the economy and the population as well as the improvements in technology.
“The direction for NAIA is to develop what is there right now. Development will undertake various aspects: the development of the utilization of the place, improvement on the structure to expand its capability to handle more moving passengers and to include and use tech to enhance security and safety in consideration of various global threats,” Tugade said.
But while this is happening, Tugade said the government is not shutting the door of opening the possibility of other airports provided that these are within the purview of the requirements of international airport regulatory offices.
He said that the government is studying two proposals – one in Bulacan north of Manila and in Sangley Point, another former American base, in Cavite at the south.
“The proponent in Bulacan has proposed to build an airport with four runways. Meanwhile, the development of Sangley would be holistic, an airport and a possible seaport,” Tugade said.
But considering time constraints, he said the government would prioritize what could be easily done and what could easily be handled – improving the present.
“As we improve the present we look at the future and the possibilities and potentials of opening of other airports to handle an expanded requirements of international standards is there,” Tugade said.