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Old September 5th, 2009, 06:10 AM   #321
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International air passenger traffic falls during first half, govt says
09/03/2009 | 01:11 PM BusinessWorld

The number of passengers on international flights who passed through the country’s airports dipped just slightly in the first half from the same period last year, despite the feared double impact of the global economic slump and the pandemic scare, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) said on Tuesday.

CAB data show that total international passenger traffic dipped 0.48 percent to 6.26 million in the first six months from 6.29 million in the same period last year, though still higher than 2007 level of 5.76 million.

Incoming passengers totaled 3.25 million, 0.6 percent less than last year’s 3.27 million, accounting for a little more than half the total international passenger traffic flow.

Outgoing passengers, on the other hand, went down 0.33 percent to 3.01 million from 3.02 million in the same comparative periods.

"Decline in international passenger traffic was better than expected despite forecasts that overseas travel will be impacted [sic] by the global crisis and the A(H1N1) virus scare[but] the second wave of A(H1N1) remains a threat to airlines’ international operations...in the second half of this year," CAB deputy executive director Porvenir P. Porciuncula said in a phone interview.

The International Air Transport Association said international passenger traffic in June fell 7.2 percent year-on-year, amid a bleak outlook for the rest of the year.

The group saw the biggest decline in Asia Pacific, where the drop was 14.5 percent in June.

Philippine Airlines (PAL), which topped the passenger traffic of 32 other carriers on CAB’s list, accounting for more than a sixth of the total, saw its traffic dipping 9 percent year on year to 1.74 million in the first half.

PAL officials were not immediately available for comment.

Cebu Pacific Air, which came in second, saw its traffic rising 18.7 percent to 797,523 passengers from 671,738.

Candice A. Iyog, Cebu Pacific vice-president for marketing and distribution, said in a phone interview that the growth can be attributed to low fares and more aircrafts.

She said customers who took advantage of the carrier’s "Go Lite" fares, which offer low all-in rates for passengers without check-in baggage starting mid-last year, accounted for 15 percent-20 percent of its total.

She clarified, however, that the rise in international passengers of almost a fifth did not contribute significantly in the carrier’s revenues because the average ticket price is lower by a tenth.

The rest of the top 10 carriers on CAB’s list were: Cathay Pacific Airways, down 0.8 percent to 735,817; Singapore Airlines, down 5.2 percent to 272,008; Asiana Airlines, up 74.89 percent to 252,273; Northwest Airlines, down 11.54 percent to 233,870; Emirates Air, up 4.15 percent to 226,800; Japan Airlines, down 3.08 percent to 215,746; Qatar Airways, up 19.98 percent to 212,798; and Korean Air, down 13.67 percent to 196,507. - J. F. de Guzman
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Old September 5th, 2009, 06:11 AM   #322
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Coming Soon!
Turkish Airlines spreads its wings in Asia

Turkish Airlines intends to double its frequency in Asia within the next two years, starting with Tokyo Narita, from four weekly flights to daily operations to Bangkok, which will include an equipment upgrade to 2 daily flights, 3 days a week in December 2009, with 4 flights extensions probably to Saigon, while the additional 3 flights are intended as flight extensions either to Manila or Guangzhou, depending on the services agreement that will be discussed later between the Philippines.

With today’s flight to Jakarta as an extension of the flights to Singapore, Turkish Airlines is stepping up it’s efforts to fly to more Asian destinations. This is an attempt to bolster load factors on that under-performing sector, especially by attracting Muslim religious traffic from Indonesia, which may wish to transit via Istanbul.

There are some bilateral trade discussions also under way, including a code sharing agreement between PT Garuda Indonesia and Turkish Airlines.

Turkish Airlines (THY) is lining up and waiting for the approval of the Air Service Agreement between Turkey and the Philippines this year, as it announces plans to introduce new destinations in the far east.

The airline is also planning to double the flights on its non-stop Bangkok-Istanbul route to 14 per week this December and introduce regular flights to Manila and Ho Chi Minh City, initially via Bangkok, in 2011.

Turkish Airlines is currently in discussions with Thai Airways International to establish a code-share agreement enabling the carriers to expand network coverage through Bangkok.

Turkish Airlines wants to build up Bangkok as a primary hub for Asia in a way that would develop the network capabilities of the Thai and THY, using their respective hubs in Bangkok and Istanbul to boost the joint market share with Thai on the Australia-Turkey route, among others. Ho Chi Minh City and Manila, as well as southern Chinese cities such as Guangzhou, are to be the target cities.

In the 12-month period from July 2008 to June this year, 56,987 passengers had flown between Australia and Turkey. Of the total, Singapore Airlines had a market share of 31 percent and Emirates 28 percent. The combined share of Turkish/THAI was a meager 3 percent. Istanbul, a city at the legendary crossroads of the silkroad for Europe and Asia, is a natural transit point for travelers between Asia, Europe, Africa, the Americas, and now Asia-Pacific and Australia.

With Hong Kong declining to grant it an increase in capacity, the airline is planning to double its flights from daily to twice-daily to Bangkok in December. That huge capacity increase is a major reason why it needs to develop feeder traffic from across Asia-Pacific.

Since 2003, THY transit traffic has been the highest growth segment, up 230 percent from 470,200 passengers to 1,553,000 in 2008. The airline claims that in the same period, its annual passenger numbers have more than doubled from 10.4 million to 22.5 million, the number of destinations have grown from 104 to 155, and the number of aircraft have grown from 65 to 132.

In 2009, the target is 26.7 million passengers, including 14 million international passengers and more than 2 million transit passengers. New destinations expected by the end of this year include Ufa, Meshad, Dhakar, Nairobi, Sao Paulo, Benghazi, Goteborg, Lviv, Toronto, and Jakarta.

The airline, which is Europe’s fourth-biggest airline in terms of passengers carried, is expanding its fleet, especially long-haul, wide-body aircraft, and aims to increase its European market share by one-fifth to 10 percent next year. It is aggressively pursuing the transit passenger traffic by transforming Istanbul to become a major hub between Europe and Asia in competition with gulf-based carriers.

At present, Turkish Airlines serves points in Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, and lately Jakarta. It plans to resume service to Kuala Lumpur together with new services to China, the Philippines, and Vietnam. It also has plans to make Bangkok its Asian hub for flights to Australia by 2011.

Turkish currently flies to 119 international destinations, 18 in Asia, plus 36 cities in Turkey.

The delivery of 19 new aircraft, including seven Airbus A330s and seven Boeing B777s, worth more than US$2.5 billion, during 2011 to 2012, is central to the carrier’s international and Asian expansion. It currently has a fleet of 132 aircraft, 49 of which are deployed on long-haul flights.

Turkish is on course to carry 26.7 million passengers this year, with plans to increase volume to 40 million by 2012.

The carrier is one of the global airline industry’s success stories.

While most other airlines face severe contractions, Turkish was recently ranked the fourth best-performing airline of the year by AviationWeek. It posted 9 percent growth in passenger traffic in the first half of this year, with distance flown rising by 17 percent and seat capacity up 28 percent.

The airline, listed on the Istanbul Stock Exchange, saw its passenger volumes rise steadily from 11.99 million in 2004 to 22.53 million in 2008.

Net profit soared from US$75 million in 2004 to US$204 million in 2007 before leaping to US$874 million last year.

The airline targets revenue of US$6 billion in 2011 and US$8 billion in 2012, spurred largely by the sharp increase in aircraft capacity.

(Source: eturbonews.com)
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Old September 7th, 2009, 06:19 PM   #323
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Shenzhen Airlines introduces 3rd point to China
Flies Quanzhou, considers Kalibo and Cebu as next stop
September 7, 2009

Shenzhen Airlines, the 5th biggest airline in China, announced the launching of its third point in China after Nanning and Shenzhen, to Quanzhou in September 21, 2009.

The airline controlled by Shenzhen Huirun Investment Co. and Yiyang Co. Ltd.,was launched in 1993 by the local government of Shenzhen before it was privatized in 2005.

Shenzhen Airlines started flying to Manila in October 2007. It will fly Quanzhou four times a week with departure at 11AM for Manila and return flight at 2PM.

The airline uses 115 fleets of boeing 737's and Airbus 320's that carried 15 million passengers in 2008 and employs more than 12,200 employees.

"With our national network in place we are now developing international flight routes in Northeast and Southeast Asia. We now fly to Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Vietnam, Singapore, Osaka and the Philippines. There will be more coming. The international operations now are focused on Southeast Asia" said Li Kun, the airline President.

Li Kun, who spent 27 years at China Southern Airlines before joining Shenzhen in December 2005 said they will open Kalibo and Cebu as part of its route network expansion after CAAC granted them more rights to fly the Philippines from the latest Air Services Agreement with China.

"We will open more international routes from China to Manila and we are also considering flying to Kalibo and Cebu on regular flight" says Li on the launching of Jinjiang flight, Shenzhen Airlines first regular scheduled flight to the country.

More than 160,000 Chinese visited the Philippines last year, pushing China as a major emerging market just behind the United States, Japan and South Korea, according to the data provided by the Department of Tourism.

Tourism Secretary Ace Durano said the launch of direct air links reflects "a growing demand" from the Chinese market, a stable source of tourists in time of the global crisis.
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Old September 7th, 2009, 07:22 PM   #324
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Old September 9th, 2009, 04:29 PM   #325
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P1.7-B int'l airport to rise in Cagayan this year

MANILA, Sept. 8 (PNA) -- State-run Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) and private consortium Cagayan Land Property Development Corp. (CLPDC) today signed a 50-year joint venture agreement to put up a P1.658-billion international airport in Lallo, Cagayan this year.

Under the joint venture agreement, CEZA will invest P691 million, or 41.7 percent of the total equity, while its private partner CLPDC will contribute the remaining P966 million, or 58.3 percent.

A joint venture company will also be created and registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to manage the construction and operation of the international airport, which will cater to the locators, visitors and tourists in the bustling Freeport and economic zone.

CEZA is a government-owned and -controlled corporation that develops and manages the 54,000-hectare Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport (CSEZFP), an economic and tourism hub in the coastal town of Sta. Ana in Cagayan province.

CLPDC, on the other hand, is composed of CAMJ Construction, Inc., LR Land Developers, Inc., TCGI Engineers, and Spanish firm Asesores y Consultores Aeronauticos S.L.

The Spanish firm will be tapped to manage the operations of the airport, once construction is finished.

CEZA Administrator and chief executive Jose Mari Ponce and CLPDC president Basilio Rodriguez signed the joint venture.

Construction of the project is expected to start within the month and expected to be completed in a year.

“Once completed, the CEZA International Airport will complement the Port Irene Seaport, which is emerging as an international transhipment hub and tourism destination in north-eastern part of Luzon,” Ponce said.

The project involves the construction of a 2,200-meter runway, with a width of 45 meters, following the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization. It will be designed to accommodate large aircraft such as Airbus A319-100, which has a typical seating capacity of 134 passengers.

It will also include a terminal building covering a floor area of 1,000 square meters, paved apron and tarmac that can accommodate two aircraft simultaneously, and a control tower.

"An international airport with international facilities and equipment is necessary to make CSEZFP a viable Freeport and tourism destination in Asia," Ponce said.

Data from the Air Transportation Office show that there were 2,359 international visitor arrivals in Cagayan via the Tuguegaro City Airport from Macau and China alone in 2008. Chartered flights bring tourists to CSEZFP via Tuguegarao.

Cagayan Valley ranked as the 7th top regional destination for tourists in the country. In 2008, it generated PhP1.6 billion in tourism receipts from the arrivals of 670,000 visitors, including 32,000 foreign tourists.

Visitor arrivals in 2008 were up by 7.5 percent from around 623,000 tourists in 2007. In particular, the volume of foreign tourists rose by over 20 percent to 32,000 from only 26,000 a year earlier, as CEZA’s marketing campaign paid off.

Ponce cited the need to construct the airport in the vicinity of Barangay San Mariano and Dagupan in Lallo to provide faster connection to the rapidly growing economic hub from the rest of the country and the world.

Cagayan Freeport is at least 12 hours away from Manila by land travel. While it is accessible by air through a domestic flight to Tugueguarao City, the Freeport is still four hours away from the capital of Cagayan province.

CSEZFP is emerging as a major economic, tourism and Internet gaming hub in the Philippines. Employment in the Freeport almost doubled from 3,000 jobs in 2007 to 5,800 in 2008.

The National Economic and Development Authority has acknowledged the contribution of the Freeport to the growth in tourism in Cagayan Valley Region. It said the construction of new business establishments such as hotels and casinos at the Cagayan special economic zone generated jobs for the people of Cagayan and increased foreign and domestic visitor arrivals.

In 2008, CEZA posted a net income of P230 million, becoming a highly profitable government-owned company, despite the impact of the global financial crisis on the domestic economy. It marked the fourth consecutive year that CEZA operated with a net profit.

As an investment hub, CSEZFP has become the preferred site of 86 foreign and domestic investors, of which 48 were already operational as of December 2008. These companies have committed to invest more than P13 billion. (PNA)
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Old September 11th, 2009, 04:48 PM   #326
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Pacific Pearl Airways firms Subic hub
Starts flying in December

Written by Henry Empeño

September 11, 2009

SUBIC BAY FREE PORT—A low-cost airline which has established its base of operations here has announced the start of its $10-million project to fly chartered planes to various tourist destinations in the country and abroad.

Pacific Pearl Airways (PPA), a private airline established in 2006, said it will begin flying out of the Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA) in December this year.

Airline president Kristoffer Jimenez, who signed the firm’s business contract with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) last week, said PPA will initially field two advanced Boeing 737-200 jets for international flights and some turboprop aircraft for local flights.

Jimenez said local destinations will initially be to popular tourism spots like Boracay, Bohol, Cebu and Davao. But as PPA begins to establish its presence in the local airline industry, the company will expand its local flight destinations.

According to the airline official, the Subic Bay Free Port has a “very strategic location.”

“A lot of tourists come here, foreigners and locals alike. It is also a booming place in terms of businesses,” Jimenez added, ticking off the advantages of locating in Subic.

To attract its potential market, Jimenez said PPA “will be offering competitive rates without sacrificing quality service costs,” an advantage he said was made possible by tax incentives and other perks offered by the SBMA.

He added that his company also intends to “eliminate stop-over hassles” with direct flights, thereby significantly cutting travel lag time.

This would allow Pacific Pearl passengers to gain more savings and more quality holidays, said Jimenez.

Meanwhile, SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza said during the contract-signing ceremonies that PPA’s $10-million investment pledge is “proof of Subic Bay’s economic resiliency.”

“What we have witnessed now proves that there’s still life after FedEx,” said Arreza, adding that the SBMA has been trying to attract more locators to the SBIA.

FedEx, the US courier giant that used SBIA as its Asia-Pacific hub since 1998, transferred its hub operations to China in February, bowing to realities of the expanding Chinese market.

Arreza, however, pointed out that because of its international airport, “Subic can host just about any kind of air-transport requirements.”

Arreza cited that the SBIA’s cargo-sorting capability has its edge over other airports in the country today.
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Old September 12th, 2009, 04:24 PM   #327
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LTP prepares China Invasion
September 12, 2009

By Leithen Francis

Lufthansa Technik Philippines is hoping to secure work from China thanks to a regulatory change in the country.

The Chinese authorities are making it easier for overseas MROs to get recognition if the firm has Hong Kong regulatory approval, the company's vice-president for marketing and sales Dominik Wiener-Silva said at Asian Aerospace.

The Hong Kong authorities have recognised Lufthansa Technik Philippines, a joint-venture between the Lufthansa Technik group and Philippine Airlines' MacroAsia, as it has done overflow work for carriers there, he adds.

His company is waiting to secure a contract from a mainland Chinese carrier before proceeding with the application for Civil Aviation Administration of China approval.

The MRO firm's heavy maintenance work is focused on the Airbus A320s, Airbus A330s and Airbus A340s. But it will be adding Boeing 777 heavy maintenance capability as Philippine Airlines will get its first two 777s by year-end, he says.

Its major third-party heavy maintenance customers include Virgin Atlantic Airways and Qantas Airways/Jetstar.

Qantas announced in May that A330 heavy maintenance work will be shifting from Lufthansa Technik Philippines to Qantas engineering and maintenance in Brisbane.

But Wiener-Silva says Lufthansa Technik Philippines will still be doing the 'D-checks' on the Qantas and Jetstar A330s and it is only 'C-checks' that are moving to Brisbane in the near term.
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Old September 13th, 2009, 06:32 PM   #328
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Group hits PAL's early retirement packages
abs-cbnNEWS.com | 09/11/2009 12:33 PM
PAL's move seen as a 'deceitful scheme of massive layoffs'

MANILA - A labor group opposed the early retirement packages offered by flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL), which it branded as "a form of massive retrenchment."

According to militant labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), PAL's early retirement scheme will cut regular employees from its workforce to hire contractuals, further boosting the airline's profits.

Contractual workers are deprived of benefits given to regular employees. They can also be fired more easily with little or no cost to the management, as compared to regular workers.

"We call on the PAL management to immediately stop offering early retirement packages to regular workers. While this scheme promises to give regular workers hefty retirement packages, it is still a form of massive retrenchment, and a deceitful one at that," KMU Chairperson Elmer Labog said in a statement.

Last month, PAL President and Chief Operating Officer Jaime Bautista said the company will offer early retirement packages for its more than 8,000 employees to reduce costs. Bautista said manpower accounts for 18% of PAL's total expenses, adding that the company wants to reduce this to close to single-digit level.

KMU, however, said that PAL's claim of losses is "highly questionable," given the increase in Lucio Tan's net worth to $1.7 billion from $1.5 billion as reported by Forbes Asia Magazine.

"We don't buy the lie that PAL is incurring losses, as its owner Lucio Tan has just firmed up his position as the second wealthiest man in the country today," Labog said.

Tan placed second in Forbes Asia magazine's list of the 40 richest people in the Philippines. Clinching the top spot is retail mogul Henry Sy, while Ayala conglomerate's Chairman Jaime Zobel de Ayala placed third in the list.

At present, Tan has a controlling stake in PAL, and has interests in tobacco, beer, and banking, among others.

Meanwhile, KMU called on PAL employees to refuse to sign up for early retirement, saying that it is better to have a regular job than getting a one-time compensation especially in a time of crisis.

“We call on PAL employees to come and work together to oppose the retrenchment schemes of the PAL management, and to organize among themselves to fight for their rights and interests," KMU said.

Earlier, abs-cbnNEWS.com received a letter from one of its readers about PAL's cost-cutting measures. The reader, who claimed to be an employee of the airline's Network Management and Telecommunication Services Department, said they were being urged to take a one-week leave per month without pay starting August 17.

PAL, however, refused to confirm whether this is true.
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Old September 13th, 2009, 06:34 PM   #329
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CAAP to increase terminal fee in E. Visayas airports

By Melanie L. Bingco, ABS-CBN Tacloban | 09/11/2009 4:18 PM


The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) is now pushing for an increase in terminal fees in various airports in the country including commercial airports in Eastern Visayas.

Engineer Sergio Sumergido, area manager for CAAP in Eastern Visayas, said the fee would be increased from P50 to P200 in Tacloban DZR airport which is classified as a principal class 1 airport.

Airports classified as principal class 2 like the Ormoc, Catarman and Calbayog Airports will increase terminal fee from P30 to P150. “This is the same with other airports (in the country) with the same classification,” he said.

Sumergido said the increase is necessary so that they could manage airport operations more efficiently.

“We are now dependent on our income to manage airport operations. That is why the increase is deemed necessary. Besides, the current fee has been set more than ten years ago,” he said.

But to get the people’s opinion on this plan, CAAP is set to conduct a public hearing within the month.

“I hope a lot of people will come so they could tell us what they think about this proposal,” he said.
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Old September 14th, 2009, 04:25 PM   #330
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Power outage freeze Philippines Brand New ATC
Suspends NAIA flights

By Rudy Santos and Rainier Allan Ronda

September 14, 2009

MANILA, Philippines - A power outage at the airport control tower crippled operations at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), forcing the delay and diversion of all international and domestic flights yesterday.

Airport officials said the power supply of their radar at the control tower broke down at 2 p.m., forcing the diversion of several incoming international flights to other airports.

“The tower cannot communicate with the radar and they cannot guide the airlines to land and depart… so it is a safety issue,” airport general manager Alfonso Cusi explained.

Cusi said some international flights were diverted to Hong Kong while other incoming flights were ordered to land in other airports.

The loss of communication links with air traffic controllers forced some 20 local and international flights already airborne to turn back to NAIA while other flights preparing for take off were ordered grounded.

In the advisory released by airport officials, among the flights ordered to “return to base” were cargo flights from Manila to Taipei and Manila to Bangkok.

The cargo flight from Manila to Taipei (CI 5850) that departed 1:30 p.m. was ordered to return to base because of the radar problem. It was the same problem in flight TG 621 (MNL-Bangkok) that was forced to return to Manila following the power failure.

Other cancelled flights include PR 311 of the Philippine Airlines (PAL) bound for Hong Kong, which was ordered to return to base.

PAL’s PR 432 bound for Narita, Japan and PR 416 bound for Pusan, South Korea were also cancelled.

In the same advisory, international flights TG 620 (MNL-Kansai, Japan); SQ 917 (MNL-Singapore) and CZ 398 (MNL-Canton, China) were delayed at NAIA Terminal I.

At the NAIA Terminal 2, a total of eight domestic flights, were cancelled. Two domestic flights in NAIA Terminal 3 were also cancelled.

In the advisory, among the PAL domestic flights that were cancelled include the PR 177 from Manila to Tagbilaran; PR 178 Tagbilaran to Manila; PR 293 Manila to Dumaguete; PR 294 Dumaguete to Manila; PR 283 Manila to Cagayan de Oro; PR 284 Cagayan de Oro to Manila; PR 849 and PR 850, Manila to Cebu, Cebu to Manila; PR 817 and PR 818, Manila to Davao and Davao to Manila; PR 393 and PR 394, Manila to Tacloban and Tacloban to Manila.

Cebu Pacific’s Manila to Tacloban flight and its return flight 5J 657 and 5J658 were also cancelled.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) issued a “notice to airmen” (Notam) around 3:30 p.m., advising all inbound and outbound flights of the radar and power failure at the airport.

The Notam forced several incoming international flights to divert to other airports and return to their point of origin.

With the long range area radar system out of commission due to the power failure, airport officials resorted to using the medium range Manila Approach Radar to guide other incoming flights to a safe landing at NAIA.

CAAP said the sudden loss of electricity should have triggered the standby generators to take over.

However, the generators were not sufficient enough to power the air-to-ground communication systems and the international hotlines connecting CAAP to nearby traffic facilities.

The problem remained even after Elmer Gomez, the chief of the Manila Airways Facilities Complex, reported that all facilities and international communication links had been restored by 3:30 p.m.

But the radar display at the Manila Area Control center remained out of commission.

CAAP then took over and allowed a five-minute departure interval at the airport.

Domestic flight carriers Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, ZestAir and SeaAir were directly affected by the delays, and some flights to local destinations were cancelled.

On the other hand, the international flights by members of the Airline Operators Council also remain grounded at the NAIA Terminals 1 and 2, waiting for the resumption of normal service.

Marlyn Tolentino of Singapore Airlines said they were advised of the problem two hours after the blackout occurred.

“But we managed to depart our two flights back to Singapore before the power failure,” she said.

An airport official said CAAP was still attending to the radar repairs until last night.

CAAP director general Ruben Ciron said they would expect normal operations to resume at 10 p.m.

“Radar of Manila Air Traffic Control Center encountered technical problem at around 2 p.m. that slowed down all incoming and outgoing flights. My technical people are working on it and expect normal operations by 10 p.m. (last night),” Ciron said in the advisory.
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Old September 15th, 2009, 01:49 PM   #331
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Airport radar has only 10-year life span

By Jerome Aning
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:57:00 09/15/2009

MANILA, Philippines—The “huge international embarrassment” that was Sunday’s radar malfunction at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) has once again exposed the dismal state of affairs at the country’s supposed premier gateway.

The faulty radar, which delayed at least 4,000 passengers, should have been replaced four years ago, a senior aviation official said on Monday.

The radar, commissioned in 1996, was meant to have a life span of just 10 years, but its replacement had been snagged by bureaucratic setbacks, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) spokesperson Eduardo Batac told Agence France Presse.

“Our system should have been replaced in 2005, but because of the processes that we had to go through, it is only now that we are starting to put in place the new systems,” Batac said.

Malacañang and the House of Representatives ordered an inquiry into the two-hour breakdown that as of early morning Monday had affected around 80 international and domestic flights, the worst technical glitch to hit NAIA in recent memory.

Airport officials apologized to travelers but nevertheless downplayed the incident and traced the problem to NAIA’s erratic power supply and aging equipment.

Heavy rains over the past week led to a power fluctuation that stopped the radar, forcing the aviation authorities to cancel or reroute flights, stranding thousands, Batac said.

Officials conceded the episode had come at a bad moment, with US authorities set to review the nation’s aviation safety standards.

The disruption came just a month ahead of an audit by the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to evaluate safety standards across the Philippines, two years after it downgraded the country’s rating to category two—meaning its aviation sector had failed to meet international safety rules.

“This is one of the things they (FAA) will have to look into,” Batac said, referring to Sunday’s incident. “It’s just very unfortunate that our back-up system failed.”

The downgrade to category two in 2007 restricted flag carrier Philippine Airlines’ flights to the United States, and prompted the government to create the CAAP.

A Palace official cited the fresh black eye on the country’s image as a result of Sunday’s disruption.

Not good experience

“It was supposed to be a beautiful experience to come here to the Philippines. But even before [tourists] could enter the airport, that’s what happened,” said deputy presidential spokesperson Anthony Golez. “It’s not a very good experience for the tourists, especially the first-timers.”

“What is most important in this issue is to let the chips fall where they may,” Golez said. “We will find out the people responsible for this because this goes against the principle of giving safety to our passengers.”

Speaker Prospero Nograles sought an explanation from the CAAP concerning what he called “a huge international embarrassment to our country’s airport safety.”

Nograles ordered the House special oversight committee to look not only into the technical factors—like NAIA’s “ill-maintained and Jurassic” back-up systems—but also into the reported “grumblings and in-fighting” among aviation personnel.

He said the committee, for example, should look into complaints coming from some longtime employees who were purportedly being eased out in favor of “many bright consultants.”

While apologizing to passengers for the inconvenience, the CAAP and the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) maintained that many airports around the world encounter similar problems.

‘Wear and tear’

CAAP officials traced the breakdown to fluctuations in the NAIA complex’s power supply. MIAA officials said the “wear and tear” of old equipment used at the CAAP-run control tower was more to blame.

The fluctuations “triggered a chain reaction that partially affected communications links with pilots and the air traffic center, including a temporary power loss that affected the long-range radar display system,” Batac said in a statement.

But Octavio Lina, MIAA assistant general manager for operations, said it was the CAAP’s aging radar equipment that was unable to withstand the erratic power supply.

Lina stressed: “This is not serious, what happened here is really the wear and tear of our equipment. Problems like these really happen in technical facilities like these.”

NAIA General Manager Alfonso Cusi denied reports (not in the Philippine Daily Inquirer) that a “blackout” crippled the radar service. “It was more of a technical problem,” he explained.

A total of 84 flights, mostly domestic, had been canceled or delayed by the time NAIA operations returned to normal at around 7 a.m. Monday.

13-year-old equipment

“All flights are being serviced as scheduled. We thank the public for their cooperation and understanding,” Cusi said.

CAAP Director General Ruben Ciron said air controllers first reported the problem as early as 2 p.m. on Sunday. The agency notified airlines about the disruption at around 3:30 p.m., or an hour and a half later.

The radar service was partially restored at around 4:30 p.m. after the MIAA installed a new power supply system. Take-offs and landings resumed, though still on a limited scale, about an hour later.

According to Batac, the incident happened at a time when the CAAP and its mother agency, the Department of Transportation and Communications, are in the process of replacing NAIA’s radar and power infrastructure, which included pieces of hardware as old as 13 years.

On April 13 this year, NAIA suffered a 14-hour interruption when electronic equipment at the check-in counters, boarding gates and transfer desks bogged down.

The problem was then traced to a fiber optic cable malfunction. With reports from Christian V. Esguerra and Gil Cabacungan Jr
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Old September 17th, 2009, 03:10 PM   #332
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PAL, LTP launch an additional maintenance facility in Cebu
By Lynda B. Valencia


MANILA, Sept. 16 (PNA) -– The leading flag carrier, Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Lufthansa Technic Philippines (LTP), its maintenance provider, recently launched an additional maintenance facility in Mactan, Cebu.

The expanded parking area space is to be used by LTP for the maintenance of PAL, Air Philippines and PAL Express airlines.

Jaime J. Bautista, PAL president and COO, said “The parking area brings PAL one step closer to our goal of smooth and seamless operations due to highly efficient maintenance of our fleet, especially in Cebu.”

”While the existing 1.4 hectare maintenance facility of LTP where the A320s and A319s are routinely checked already deserves much commendation for a job well done, this additional space will eventually allow LTP to provide maintenance checks even on the soon-to-arrive Boeing 777-ERs,” Bautista said.

He said that despite the global economic slump and now the A (H1N1) pandemic scare, “let me at least try to brighten up the day by sharing with you our excitement at the forthcoming arrival of our first B777s this November."

After the recent completion of the narrow-body re-fleeting, delivery of the B777s will serve as the highlight of the modernization of the wide-body fleet, he said.

”These long-range, fuel-efficient jets will allow us not just to fly to new destinations but also to re-assert our place among the best airlines in this part of the world,” Bautista added,

He is confident that LTP is a much capable partner who will ensure these new jets will be in top condition always, whether in Manila or in Mactan.

”We dare venture into acquiring additional aircraft, upgrade the cabin of the B747s and offer exciting customer service enhancements in spite of very gloomy industry forecasts because we have been in the business for so long to know the economic cycle will eventually turn for the better very soon,” he said.

It is adjacent to the 1.4-hectare maintenance facility costing P88 million, where PAL’s narrow-body fleet of Airbus A320s and A319s are checked.

The facility enables LTP to perform line maintenance checks on PAL’s turbo-propeller fleet of Bombardier Q400 and Q300 aircraft that is being used by PAL Express.

Meanwhile, LTP is applying as a locator at the Mactan Export Processing Zone to gain “ecozone” status that will enable it to ship aircraft parts and materials directly to Mactan. (PNA)
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Old September 18th, 2009, 11:35 AM   #333
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This is a clear reflection where budget priorities should be
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Old September 18th, 2009, 02:28 PM   #334
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PAL Gives Pink Slip to 2,000 Workers


Philippine Airlines has officially informed its employees that the management's retrenchment program will be implemented beginning November 15 affecting an estimated 2,000 workers coming from non-core services such as passenger handling, airline’s catering, ramp handling, and cargo handling operations. The numbers is equivalent to almost half the affected total workforce.

"We have no choice but to trim costs. We were really affected with the long haul, instead of the medium haul flights,” says Jaime Bautista, PAL CEO citing weak travel demands from areas where it matters most, the transpacific flight to where it derived majority of its profit to support the growing workforce. But with transpacific traffic down 7% and the same fixed cost from workers, something has to to be done in order to survive.

"We have decided to outsource the non-core business and transfer several operations to third parties to reduce costs and improve cash flow. Philippine Airlines employs 8,052 employees as of March 2009, almost half of them are ground employees. So we are currently reviewing its entire organizational set-up to make the workforce lean and mean" adds Bautista.

Last year the company earned P16 billion on gross sales for the same quarter period while it only earned P13 billion this year, a massive drop of P3 billion, which is a reflection on the current decline on its trans-pacific operations which comprises 32.6% in 2008 accounting to 47% decrease of its yields where international passenger traffic registered -1.5% slip as compared to a year earlier. The decline in passenger revenues was primarily brought about by lower net yield per Revenue Passenger Kilometer (RPK) as the airline scrambles to fill its seats.

PAL workers however are resisting the retrenchment plans because they believed that its main aim is to bust the union by outsourcing those work to companies that are also owned by Tan such as MacroAsia Corp., where workers are non-unionized, receive cheaper wages, less benefits, and without security of tenure.

“The outsourcing and spin-off is unacceptable to us. We are going to present [options] to the PAL management if it is really in a dire financial need” explained Edgardo C. Oredina, PAL Employees Association (Palea) president.

Mr. Oredina said PALEA members were open to pay cuts through job rotations to reduce working hours, but removing them altogether to be replaced by contractual isn't right as a justification to cut down on costs.

In 1998, PAL was leading to bankruptcy and forced go into receivership in the aftermath of the 1997 Asian Financial crisis. It returned to profit in 2000 and was out of receivership in 1997.

In 2008, the airline lost $301.4 million as a result of higher expenses brought about by last year’s record-high fuel prices and imprudent fuel-hedge deals which resulted to the sacking of its Chief Finance Officer. While revenues went up slightly to $1.6 billion it were not enough to cover operating expenses of $1.9 billion, up from $1.539 billion the previous year. Total liabilities also went up by almost a fifth to $869 million.
Burdened with ballooning operating costs, the airline is now looking at various strategies to return back to profitability, including selling assets, reducing flight frequencies, and letting go of employees through rationalization.
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Old September 18th, 2009, 02:31 PM   #335
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Legazpi airport suffers Blackout too
But ATC survives Power Failure!

September 18, 2009

By Rainier Allan Ronda and Rudy Santos
Justify Full

MANILA, Philippines - Commercial supply of electricity fluctuated in Legazpi, Albay yesterday, busting he transformer of the city airport for about two hours yesterday morning.

Fortunately, a back-up battery was activated immediately upon the breakdown of the transformer at 11:27 a.m. and operations at the airport remained normal, Edgardo Ramos, Legazpi City airport manager, said.

The power transformer was repaired by 1:38 p.m. and the incident caused no delayed or cancelled flights.

Last Sunday, a power outage at the Manila air control tower crippled operations at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for several hours, causing the cancellation and delay of several international and domestic flights.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) failed to restore power immediately to the communication and navigation equipment, especially the vital radar machines.

While the CAAP said that it had restored uninterrupted power supply at the control tower, the incident led Malacañang to order an investigation.

But CAAP insiders expressed doubts over investigation, as it would be headed by Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Leandro Mendoza.

“The problems here in the CAAP should be looked into by knowledgeable civil aviation experts who will not cover up for the ignorance of retired military officers that have been placed in highly technical and sensitive positions here,” sources said.

The sources said while the CAAP top management and the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) has been downplaying the radar problem and attributing it to aging communications and navigation equipment, the power outage last Sunday paralyzed airport operations.

They said this could have been avoided if there were regular preventive maintenance checks by the CAAP.

“We are being led by people who do not know their jobs,” a source said.

The sources noted that CAAP director general Ruben Ciron has kept silent about the incident.

“We’re not surprised. We doubt if he can tell you what the problem was. And what’s worse is that he appointed his fellow retired military officers to crucial positions and these people do not know civil aviation matters,” the source said.

MACC construction to start

Meanwhile, the DOTC has given the go signal for the CAAP to start the construction of a new back-up Manila Area Control Center (MACC).

Ciron said Mendoza called him up Tuesday night and told him to proceed with the new project, which would be in place in three months

Called the ALS 2.5 system, the equipment would be used primarily by air controllers, while the old radar monitor-display consoles would be on standby in case of emergencies.

The project, costing about P300 million, will be finished by December.

Similar equipment imported from abroad, consisting of a workstation with 12 radar display consoles and associated system, would cost more than a billion pesos, Ciron said.

The new radar console display would be able to receive signals from three long-range radars in Laoag, Tagaytay and Cebu and process the inputs in Manila for countrywide radar coverage of all incoming and outgoing flights within the Flight Information Region.

At the same time, Ciron announced that flight operations at the country’s premier airport were restored as of 8 a.m. yesterday.

Ciron had a lengthy discussion with President Arroyo in Villamor Air Base last Tuesday about the incident and the steps taken to remedy the situation. –
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Old September 18th, 2009, 02:34 PM   #336
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Aviation chief criticized for hiring 109 relatives

September 18, 2009

By Christine F. Herrera

AN OFFICIAL has demanded a lifestyle check on the head of the Civil Aviation Authority, saying he has surrounded himself with consultants—mostly relatives-—who receive P2.113 million a month.

Surigao del Sur Rep. Philip Pichay said Aviation chief Ruben Ciron had 109 consultants who were drawing P18,000 to P25,000 in salaries.

“I can’t understand why Ciron needs 109 consultants. Most of them are husbands and wives or brothers and sisters... who bloat the payroll,” Pichay told the House committee on appropriations.

“What is this, a family corporation?”

Pichay was angered by the radar failure at the Manila airport that grounded domestic and international flights on Sunday.

He told Ciron, who was present when Transport secretary Leandro Mendoza presented his department’s P15.07-billion budget for House approval, to resign for incompetence and negligence.

He wanted to know why Ciron made cash advances amounting to P5 million from May to September this year. His advances totaled P500,000 in July alone, and he made them in three consecutive days, he said.

Pichay said the 109 consultants were based in the Aviation Authority’s head office alone, and he had yet to find out how many more had been hired in the country’s other airports.

“Ciron should resign due to incompetence and negligence,” he said.

“He is a technical guy for being a fighter pilot and has a master in theology. CAAP has problem with management.”

Ciron was quiet while Pichay was scolding him.

The Aviation Authority has blamed Manila Electric Co. for the power failure that made the radar fail at the Manila airport, but Meralco said it had nothing to do with the radar’s failure.
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Old September 21st, 2009, 09:25 AM   #337
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SEAIR Solidifies grip at Caticlan Airport
Launches more flights to Boracay, Palawan, and Batanes

September 21, 2009

In anticipation of the increased tourist traffic during the holiday season, Southeast Asian Airlines (SEAIR) is reopening its paradise-to-paradise routes from Puerto Princesa, Palawan to Boracay (Caticlan) and vice versa effective October 16, 2009. Flights are scheduled every Tuesday and Friday. SEAIR is also restoring its Manila – El Nido, Palawan - Manila routes starting November 18, 2009, with flights every Wednesday and Sunday. Tickets can now be purchased for Puerto Princesa and El Nido flights.

SEAIR has announced that it will increase flights to Basco, Batanes from four times weekly to daily starting October 12, 2009. The airline will also increase flights to Caticlan to up to 32 flights per day effective October 15, 2009 and onwards. Presently, SEAIR has up to 27 flights a day to this famed beach destination.

SEAIR is currently the only airline flying direct to Caticlan and Batanes. SEAIR’s fleet of DO328’s and LET410’s have proven very good performance in short runways. “Our aircraft, the Dornier 328 and LET L-410, are both capable of Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL). They are aerodynamically designed in a way that it is capable of landing and taking off in about 750 meters with full pay load. These aircraft are the most appropriate for small runways where bigger commercial airplanes cannot land,” said Avelino Zapanta, SEAIR president.

Boracay and Palawan have been ranked among Asia’s top ten vacation hotspots. Boracay is well-known for its powdery white sands and crystal clear waters. Palawan is rated by the National Geographic Traveler Magazine as the best island destination in Southeast Asia and the 13th in the world for its "incredibly beautiful natural seascapes and landscapes." The El Nido Marine Reserve Park is one of the island’s most famous tourist spots.

The Batanes island group, lying at the northernmost tip of the Philippines has a distinct landscape unlike any other island in the country. During the winter months from December to February, the cool temperate weather combined with green pastures, windmills on rolling hills and lighthouses guarding immaculate shorelines give visitors a sense of a holiday in the countryside of Europe.

SEAIR is the nation's second-oldest airline and has flown almost 3 million passengers to local destinations including Cebu, Tablas (Romblon), Clark, Zamboanga, Jolo, and Tawi-tawi.
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Old September 24th, 2009, 07:43 PM   #338
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PAL employees to ask Labor dep’t to stop layoffs

Rank-and-file Philippine Airlines (PAL) employees will seek the Labor department’s help to stop the Lucio C. Tan-led company’s plan to outsource non-core services, which they claim could leave as much as 4,000 jobless.

The PAL Employees’ Association (PALEA) will file a request for preventive mediation at the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) today following a deadlock in discussions regarding moves to spin-off or outsource services of 10 PAL departments.

"We will formally forward the issue to the labor department to keep PAL from pushing through with its plan next month," PALEA president Edgardo C. Oredina said in an interview.

In a notice sent to PALEA on Sept. 9, PAL president Jaime J. Bautista told union officials that certain services needed to be outsourced or spun off "to prevent the company from incurring further losses and to preserve its remaining assets."

The services to be initially outsourced by Nov. 15 include catering, passenger handling, ramp handling, and cargo-handling operations, the notice obtained said.

PAL is also studying the possibility of outsourcing other functions like information technology, revenue accounting, reservations and call centers, as well as medical and other human resources operations.

"The initial wave will cover 80% of our 4,000 members. [If PAL pushes through with the second plan], it will wipe us all out," Mr. Oredina said.

A PAL official who requested anonymity meanwhile described the labor union’s move as "over-reacting" and "preempting the moves of the management."

"There is already an ongoing offer for all our employees to avail themselves of an early retirement package which will be completed by end of this month to achieve the reduction in the work force, to make PAL a lean and mean company," he said.

The official said there were no concrete plans beyond that, and that management would only decide on its next course of action if it fails to achieve the "ideal number of work force."

"PALEA is moving ahead of the management. It is unlikely that we will outsource all those departments because most of them have technical requirements that need experience and expertise. How can PAL work if we lose all of them?" he asked.

PAL has more than 8,000 employees, half of whom belong to the rank-and-file union.

But Mr. Oredina said PAL has yet to offer early retirement packages.

"As early as 2000, PAL has been wanting to retain only its core operations and employees, which are only the pilots and the flight attendants," Mr. Oredina said.

PAL was in a similar situation more than a decade ago at the height of the Asian financial crisis. Suffering from financial woes, PAL was forced to cut flights and retrench thousands of employees, which was subsequently declared illegal by the Supreme Court.

In 1998, PAL was forced go into receivership in the aftermath of the Asian crisis. It returned to profit in 2000 and was declared in financial health two years ago.

For the fiscal year ending March, PAL lost $301.4 million as a result of higher expenses brought about by the cost of operating more flights and last year’s record-high fuel prices.

Revenues went up slightly to $1.6 billion but were not enough to cover operating expenses of $1.9 billion, up from $1.539 billion the previous year. Total liabilities also went up by almost a fifth to $869 million.

Burdened with debt and ballooning costs, the company is now looking at various options, including selling aircraft, reducing flights, and letting go of employees. It is also on lookout for potential white knights who can ease its financial woes.
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Old September 24th, 2009, 07:44 PM   #339
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P6-B radar facility up by Dec.
Top News
Written by Recto Mercene / Reporter
Thursday, 24 September 2009 00:00

TRANSPORTATION Secretary Leandro Mendoza on Wednesday presided over the groundbreaking of a P600-million radar and communications system at the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) compound.


The project is expected to be online in December at the earliest or February 2010 at the latest.

The building and arrays of radar console system will cost P300 million, while the latest communication system will add another P300 million to the project, according to CAAP Director General Ruben Ciron.

The Manila Area Control Center (MACC) bogged down two weeks ago, causing disruptions in local and international flights.

The trouble was traced to an aging automatic voltage regulator (AVR) that broke down, which should have been taken over by the uninterrupted power supply (UPS) unit that also failed to do its job.

Ciron explained earlier that the AVR failed because of a power fluctuation from the Manila Electric Co., which coursed its supply to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia), which, in turn, provides the CAAP with electric juice.

Subsequent investigations showed the aging equipment should have been replaced a year ago but lack of fund and procurement procedures delayed the installation of the new Area Control Center.

Ciron told Mendoza the communications upgrade would include Mactan-Cebu International Airport, Northern Mindanao and Eastern and Western Visayas regions.

At the moment, he said the CAAP has a “blind spot” along the South China Sea, preventing the radar coverage of over-flights from Singapore to Hong Kong, Jakarta to Hong Kong and Singapore to Tokyo.

An effective radar coverage of the South China Sea would enable the CAAP to properly bill all air carriers flying over the Philippines Flight Information Region, which add a hefty income to the CAAP.

At the moment, the flow control system being adopted by the MACC allows 80-mile separation between aircraft; this will be reduced to a 50-mile separation once the current glitch is fully fixed.

However, Ciron assured Mendoza that once the new MACC project is installed 90 days from now, the separation between aircraft would be further reduced to 30 miles, enabling air controllers to handle more volume of air traffic.

During a day-long meeting at the CAAP, Ciron also proposed to the DOTC chief to set aside P100 million to upgrade the country’s search and rescue (SAR) service, a major component of the country’s air-traffic control system.

Mendoza seemed agreeable to the idea and promised to discuss the SAR funding in the next budget hearing.

The DOTC chief also a toured the new Flight Inspectorate Service building, constructed at P23 million, to house the flight operations, airworthiness sections, licensing section, check-pilots headquarters and aircraft inspectors.
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Old September 25th, 2009, 04:21 AM   #340
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DMIA: the Next premier gateway
Written by Noel G. Tulabut Special to the BusinessMirror
Wednesday, 23 September 2009 19:23

FROM an almost birdless commercial airport in the country, it is now one of the fastest-growing gateways in the Philippines and probably in the whole Southeast Asian region. Once a desolate aviation complex with ash and other volcanic debris spewed out by an angry volcano about 10 kilometers away, the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) inside the Clark Free Port is the most promising and much-improved airport in the country today. It is also one of the highly patronized airports which caters to budget airlines in the region, fulfilling the vision for it to become the site of the next premier gateway to the Philippines.

DMIA, established in 2003 when it was renamed from Clark International Airport, registered only 44 flights back then. Now there are more than 2,000 passenger and cargo flights that come in and out of DMIA weekly.

“This airport has so much not only promise but actual viability, as we have proven since its utilization as a civilian commercial aviation complex in only a few recent years,” said Victor Jose Luciano, president and chief executive officer of Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC).

CIAC is the implementing arm of the Bases Conversion Development Authority, which oversees airport-development program for DMIA.

Passenger arrivals

With the creation of flights came a surge in the number of domestic and international passengers in Clark.

Luciano said on record is a noticeable steep increase in the number of passengers serviced at DMIA. As a former airline executive, he is widely credited in Pampanga with persuading officials of various local and regional airlines to mount flights in and out of Clark.

From a measly 7,880 passengers in 2003, when the former Clark International Airport was renamed DMIA, the figure rose to 490,748 after five years, or a dramatic 6,227-percent increase.

In DMIA, there are daily flights to and from Seoul by Asiana Airlines, Singapore by Tiger Airways, Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu by Air Asia. On the other hand, Cebu Pacific—a Philippine flag carrier—has six flights per week to Hong Kong, four flights each to Macau and Singapore, and two flights to Bangkok, Thailand.

While there was a noted decrease in visitor arrivals in January and February this year, DMIA still posted a 22-percent increase in the international passenger volume from January to June 2009 compared with the same period of last year.

“DMIA is the only Philippine airport that posted positive growth rate this year in terms of international passenger movement,” Luciano said.

“This was made even in view of the global economic crisis and the A(H1N1) virus,” he added.

On the domestic side, DMIA services airlines that have flights to the South. Cebu Pacific has four Cebu-Clark-Cebu flights per week, while SEAIR and Zest Air cater to Boracay-bound passengers with their 12 flights per week and two flights per week to Caticlan, respectively.

In 2007 DMIA welcomed its 1 millionth passenger from Seoul who flew in via Asiana Airlines, the second flag carrier of South Korea. Asiana has 11 flights per week between Incheon International Airport and DMIA and vice versa. This particular flight services thousands of Filipinos in the US, as it has onward connections to New York on the East Coast, Los Angeles and San Francisco on the West.

Luciano said that at the rate flights and passengers arrive in Clark, DMIA will soon have its 3 millionth passenger as the airport continues to receive international passengers.

Vision

DMIA plays a key role in making Clark and Subic a world-class logistics hub.

No less than President Arroyo has underscored the role of the two former US military bases in spurring the national economy. In her 2005 State-of-the-Nation Address (Sona), Mrs. Arroyo said the Subic-Clark Corridor will be developed as a premier international service and logistics center in Southeast Asia.

In her subsequent Sonas, the President reiterated this objective in her BEAT-THE-ODDS development program, with the “DS” in the acronym’s latter part representing the development of Subic and Clark on the 10-point agenda of the Arroyo administration.

This endeavor was expected of the President, as DMIA was named after her father and late President Diosdado P. Macapagal. Observers say Mrs. Arroyo has to pursue the total development of the Clark airport, as doing so would not only form part of her legacy but would also bring true honor to her father.

During the time of Fidel V. Ramos as president, the national leadership has plotted the blueprint for DMIA as Executive Order 174 was issued in 1994 that designates Clark as the “future site of the country’s premier international gateway.”

In fulfilling this goal, Luciano said CIAC has reformulated its vision statement for DMIA: “To be the Most Competitive International Service and Logistics Center in the Asia-Pacific region and the premier International Gateway Airport of the Philippines.”

Already, this has brought dividends for DMIA and its operators.

In 2008 DMIA was conferred “Airport of the Year” award by Frost and Sullivan—a leading research company in the world with over 26 global offices which covers the aerospace and defense markets. It has given the same award to Singapore’s Changi Airport in the 15-million passenger capacity.

The award came only a year after receiving “Low-Cost Airport of the Year” award from Centre for Asia-Pacific Aviation.

Plans

CIAC officials have been pushing for a comprehensive airport-development program that would include connectivity with the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Metro Manila, with Subic’s seaport through the recently completed Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway. The plan also included the establishment of a new passenger terminal that will be capable of processing 7 million passengers per year.

This plan, originally intended to be completed before Mrs. Arroyo steps down from office in June 2010, was stalled due to failed biddings. Public biddings for government projects, such as airports, are required under the law.

Luciano said CIAC is currently negotiating with a Kuwaiti company for a possible joint-venture undertaking. The provisions of a possible joint-venture agreement will be published for a “competitive challenge” where other interested proponents would have the right to “match or better the offer and terms” within 45 to 60 days. He said this mode is aimed at generating the best benefits for the government and in keeping the best interest of the general public.

Economic ventures

Operating the DMIA means more than having domestic and international flights for passengers and cargo.

CIAC is also mandated to create business opportunities inside the 2,500-hectare aviation complex. This means generating investment projects that translate to jobs and livelihood sources.

It’s part of the whole gamut in fulfilling the vision to establish a competitive logistics hub.

One of the biggest projects at the aviation complex is the development of the $1.025-billion Global Gateway Logistics City (GGLC), a single investment that is expected to create 70,000 jobs when fully operational.

The 167-hectare GGLC, which broke ground in August last year, is a project of the Kuwait Gulf and Links (KGL) and Peregrine Development International. GGLC will host aviation-related businesses, including but not limited to, warehousing, distribution, multinodal logistics and light industries.

It would have four zones: The Logistics Park, The Business Park, The Campus and The Town Center. The Logistics Park will cater to warehousing, distribution and light-manufacturing operations, while The Business Park will be a modern site for offices and regional headquarters.

The Campus will be a research and development complex that will be a host to IT education and other higher learning and technical competencies. The Town Center will cap the business-cum-pleasure and complete sound environment of GGLC as it will offer commercial retail, shopping malls and other recreational facilities.

Luciano said GGLC is expected to usher in the very first Aerotropolis in the Philippines, where top businesses in logistics operations can converge and thrive.

Besides GGLC, DMIA is host to scores of renowned aviation firms, including SIA Engineering (SIAE), a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines Engineering Co. SIAE is set to operate its $19-million Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul hangar in partnership with Cebu Pacific.

It will provide heavy and maintenance checks for narrow- and wide-bodied aircraft, such as the Airbus A320, Boeing 747 and B777s. This project will employ about 1,100 highly skilled Filipino specialists.

Other projects in the pipeline include more flights that will be mounted by Spirit of Manila Airlines for flights to Taipei, Taiwan and the Middle East; Zest Air for flights to Hong Kong; and Korean Airlines for flights to Incheon, South Korea.

Looking back

DMIA was the site of the former MAC (Military Airlift Command) Terminal of the US Air Force. During the stay of American troops, it served incoming and outbound civilian and military personnel of the United States, including Vietnamese who were evacuated from their war-torn country in the late 1960s.

It was also the airport that received former American prisoners of war (POWs) from the infamous Vietnam conflict. Among the hundreds of POWs that were taken and processed to Clark en route to their return to the US mainland was former US senator and presidential candidate John McCain, who was held captive for five years in North Vietnam.

Prior to officially becoming Clark Air Base (CAB) by virtue of the 1947 Military Bases Agreement between the Philippines and the United States, this aviation complex was also known as Clark Air Field and a part of the Fort Stotsenburg of the US Cavalry in the early 1900s.

CAB figured prominently in the Edsa People Power I as it served as the stopover for the Marcoses on their way to Hawaii after being plucked out from Malacañang Palace in February 1986.

CAB used to host and service US military aircraft, ranging from C-5 Galaxies (the largest US military cargo plane until the 1990s), reconnaissance aircraft and fighter jets, such as F-4 Phantoms, F-16 Fighting Falcons, F-14 Tomcats and F-15 Eagles.

The aviation complex has two parallel runways which are 2.5 kilometers in length, with provisions for a third runway. The second runway, built by the Americans shortly before they left, was designed to be an alternate landing strip for US space shuttles. With the vastness of runways, taxiways and ramp area, an Airbus A380—the largest passenger aircraft in the world today—made a stopover at DMIA last year in its trial world run.

When the American troops left Clark by virtue of the Philippine Senate’s rejection of a proposed treaty that would have extended their stay in military bases in the country, only aircraft of the Philippine Air Force—most of them Huey helicopters—flew over the skies of Clark.

Except for occasional landings by visiting or transient foreign aircraft, the aviation complex of the former CAB remained practically birdless and silent. This reality existed even up to the time when Philippine authorities assumed management and operation of the former military aviation complex in 1993.

The Philippine government first named it Clark International Airport, only to be renamed as DMIA in 2003 on the initiative of then president of Clark Development Corp. Emmanuel Angeles, concurrent head of CIAC during those days.

Today DMIA has a passenger terminal that was recently rehabilitated that doubled its capacity to 2 million passengers per year.

Currently, CIAC is embarking on an ambitious plan to build and complete DMIA Terminal II in the next 12 months. When completed, this new and bigger building would service 3 million to 7 million passengers annually.

(Mr. Tulabut worked in several newspapers for several years as an Angeles City-based correspondent before joining the Clark Development Corp.)
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