CLARK FREEPORT, Philippines—The proposed North Integrated Luzon Railway, which will run from Cagayan Valley to Sorsogon province in Bicol, will include a link to the Clark International Airport (CRK) here, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said.
“It would not be difficult to run a spur leg along those rails servicing Clark. That is how we see a rail system servicing Clark,” Abaya told the Inquirer on the sidelines of a program welcoming the maiden flight of Emirates from Dubai to Clark on Oct. 1.
The government has no figures as to how much the new and longer railway project would cost.
The project comes after China sued the Philippines over the delay in the implementation of the North Luzon Railway (NorthRail), which was started during the term of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Abaya said the project cost of the new railway would be known after the completion of a feasibility study.
He said the government was looking at developing a two-airport system consisting of the CRK and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia), perhaps even a three-airport system.
In the second option, it would be a combination of the CRK, Naia and a replacement or supplement for Naia, the location of which is still being studied.
Aside from extending the terminal at CRK, a 45,000-square meter terminal for low-cost carriers is also being planned.
“We will continue to support Clark though we will not put all our eggs in Clark,” Abaya said.
He said the entry of Emirates “shows their confidence in how the airport is run.”
Victor Jose Luciano, president of the state-owned Clark International Airport Corp., said passengers in CRK grew from 533,619 in 2007 to 1.3 million in 2012 as flights increased from 2,596 to 6,409 for the same period.
“From their economic interest, [Emirates] see a market,” Abaya said.
He said the government would continue to invest in CRK in support of the aviation industry.
In a speech read by Abaya, President Aquino said the decision of Emirates to make CRK a second gateway after Naia was a “recognition of how far the Philippines, a nation once considered an economic underdog, has come: today, we are developing into a nation that is a wellspring of opportunity for both Filipinos and foreigners.”
“This inaugural flight comes at a time when we have started to reap the gains brought about by good governance and a commitment expressed by the Filipino people to turn our nation around,” Mr. Aquino said.
Emirates’ Boeing 777 brought home 150 passengers, mostly Filipinos.
Luciano said the liberalized policy put in place by the government helped bring Emirates to CRK after five years of talks.
Mr. Aquino said the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines was “working hard” to upgrade the capacities of airlines and aviation services, and set improved operation standards for industry players and stakeholders.
“The presence of Emirates in our country signals to us that you have seen our sincerity, and our promise as a nation. And it signals to the world that, without doubt, the Philippines has begun to take flight as a nation determined to make permanent the positive transformation it enjoys today,” he said.
- Lawmakers push for high-speed railway to connect Clark and NAIA (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- DOTC Wants NAIA Replacement Near Metro Manila (airlinenewsphilippines.wordpress.com)