Ramon Ang’s massive investment in PAL will certainly benefit from a new airport to match the major refleeting of PAL. So its no brainer that he is pursuing this opportunity of building a new airport just complements its needs. Let’s wish him success to make this happen particularly when we also read here the difficulty the government has in doing the same for Clark International Airport.
DEMAND AND SUPPLY By Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star) Updated September 24, 2012
“Mark this day in your diary… Sept. 20, 2012… put down there that on this day Ramon Ang told you by this time next year, a new international airport will start to rise.”
That was how San Miguel Big Boss Ramon Ang responded to my question about how serious he is in putting up a new international airport. Over lunch at his office with PhilStar Columnist Cito Beltran, RSA still won’t tell us where exactly his new airport will be. He still has to sign up a few more hectares of land for an airport that promises to be even larger than the current Clark International.
RSA told us that every Filipino will be proud of this new airport. It will have four runways, two exclusively for take offs and two only for landings. The terminal building will be state of the art in ecologically responsible architecture. There will be solar panels and will be so designed to minimize power consumption for air conditioning.
The latest in aviation navigation facilities will be there… the same stuff the government has been hesitating to acquire for NAIA all these years. It will be connected to the Bonifacio and Makati business districts by a 10 lane expressway that will cut travel time to just a maximum of 20 minutes. He could put an express trainfor another billion dollars, he said, but he doesn’t think it is necessary.
Contrary to earlier reports, RSA said the new airport will serve not just PAL but all other international and domestic carriers including arch rival Cebu Pacific. Once it is up, he promised, Filipinos will no longer feel embarrassed with foreign visitors because the days of having the world’s worse airport will be over.
How would he fund it? That’s not a problem, he insists. He has sounded off a number of sovereign wealth funds in the region and they are just looking for a project such as this. He also promises to deliver it within three years… within the term of P-Noy.
But what about government permits? Wouldn’t that slow him down? I told him that the current CAAP chief isn’t too hot about the idea of a private sector led major airport too close to Clark and NAIA.
RSA doesn’t think government will be in the way. For one thing, the local governments of the town and province will be supportive. Environmental clearance shouldn’t be too difficult, he said, with the panel of experts working on the project. He believes even the President will be very supportive because this dream airport will not entail any government money and will be inaugurated within his watch.
So, I asked him again: do you really think you can pull this off? And the answer is the same, he has no doubts he can pull it off. He explains that he is a dreamer. He doesn’t dwell on problems of the past but moves on to a better world. And he makes it happen.
“No one believed I could pull off what I have so far accomplished but I did,” he declared. He said he doesn’t let his critics and naysayers bog him down. He just goes on to prove them wrong.
I don’t honestly know if RSA can pull off this big project and I have my doubts. But I certainly hope he would succeed. Given that government has proven itself unable to do anything about NAIA and even about Clark all these years, I am ready to support any private sector effort to get the job done. We have nothing to lose anyway, since RSA will not be risking government money.
I hope the President, the new DOTC leadership and private sector leaders will help get this dream airport realized. Maybe just this once, we can hold back on the crab mentality.
And the timing is right… we are flavor of the month among investors or so they say. If the sovereign wealth funds see we have a serious project that is supported by everyone, raising the money should be a breeze.
This may be our last chance to have a respectable airport. If we are going to depend on government, it isn’t going to happen. DOTC can’t even open up Terminal 3 to full use after over a decade of it being a white elephant.
I received this belated reply from Clark International Airport’s Chichos Luciano to a letter from a reader who is an unhappy frequent user of Clark’s airport.
First of all let me say, “mea culpa, mea maxima culpa” for my failure to respond to you and I deeply appreciate your concern and the public’s as well regarding the complaints about the Clark Airport. I look at these concerns very positively, believing that we cannot be effective government servants if we are “balat sibuyas.”
Boo, we offer no excuses for our failures. The situation at the Clark Airport is such that despite two expansions, one in 2007 and two in 2010, at a cost of P80 million and P330 million, respectively, our level of physical improvement in infrastructure has not been adequate if matched to the growth of passenger volume, and so this failure on our part.
We had 14,000 passengers in 2004, 400,000 in 2007, 767,000 in 2011, and will hit 1,400,000 passengers in 2012. At this rate one can claim we are probably the world’s fastest growing airport. Our growth from January to August of 2012 is already 63 percent over the same period last year, and our volume for this period January to August 2012 of 803,000 passengers has already surpassed that of the whole year volume in 2011 of 767,000 passengers.
So these problems, long queues in the check-in counters and immigration, roads that need upgrading, air conditioning is no longer sufficient to cool as many as 600 to 700 passengers during peak periods. We have a P360-million expansion that would add capacity in check in counters, pre-departure and arrival areas, add carousel for luggage, expand immigration area and add counters, upgrade and widen the roads. These would take eight months to accomplish which will commence as soon as DOTC finishes evaluation.
Despite the distance from Manila of about 90 kilometers Clark is fast becoming the secondary airport of choice. Six budget carriers are operating in Clark, the most number in all airports in the country now.
On the issue of the passenger loading bridges of which we have two, they are there available for the use of any airline. The airlines have the option to use these bridges at no cost to them but budget carriers prefer to park outside for quick turnaround operation. So the legacy carriers, Asiana Airlines and Dragon Air, and one budget airline from Korea, Jin Air are using the bridges.
With respect to the selection of Clark by airlines certainly this is a decision carefully done by them, taking a well-studied and calculated risk that a Clark operation is viable. Operating an airline entails massive investments in equipment, systems, and people, and airlines do not normally want to operate in two airports in a country unless they see its viability or its potential. I believe if there is one area where we were fairly successful it was in persuading these airlines to come to Clark along with the package of incentives our company offered to attract them to Clark.
As to those billboards on Friendship, the items cited there are baseless. It made mention of a P8-billion loan which is non-existent, and P1-billion loan which was supposedly drawn by us but in fact not a single centavo of that loan has been released by Landbank pending submission of some more requirements from us.
As to the matter of “profiling” single women, this is an Immigration matter and the BI has its own policies regarding this.
The government is fully committed to the development of Clark. Now with DOTC already taking a hard and serious look at what is best for Clark in terms of total development you can expect that the road to making Clark a prime international gateway is in the offing. Expect this from us as we firm up our plans in the next six months. On the part of CIAC we shall try to benchmark on best practices in the operations, looking at airports like Inchon of Korea and Changi of Singapore, sending our people to these two airports to learn from their successes.
Thank you Boo and will apprise you of our development plans when your schedule permits.
Here is the one liner for the day from Robin Tong.
It is funny when my wife gives me the “silent treatment.” She thinks it is a punishment.
Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco