Welcome to Inquirer Mobility

By Miguel Camus

It took a while but Clark In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Pam­panga province now has a brand-new pas­sen­ger ter­mi­nal. No credit-grab­bing is­sues in this case: The project was launched and com­pleted within the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The ter­mi­nal will have a ca­pac­ity of 8 mil­lion pas­sen­gers an­nu­ally and comes with state-of-the-art fea­tures, such as con­tact­less bag­gage han­dling, pas­sen­ger check-ins and check­outs. This will dou­ble Clark Air­port’s ex­ist­ing ca­pac­ity since the pri­vate sec­tor op­er­a­tor— Lu­zon In­ter­na­tional Premiere Air­port Devel­op­ment Corp. led by Fil­in­vest Devel­op­ment Corp. and JG Sum­mit Hold­ings—plans to de­com­mis­sion the old fa­cil­ity.

The ter­mi­nal it­self was built by Me­gaw­ide Con­struc­tion Corp. and GMR In­fra­struc­ture, the tan­dem be­hind the ex­pan­sion of Cebu’s in­ter­na­tional air­port. Vis­ually, Clark Air­port’s new ter­mi­nal does live up to its name as one of the coun­try’s pre­mier gate­ways. This was pointed out dur­ing a re­cent in­spec­tion by Pres­i­dent Duterte, who said it would “im­prove con­nec­tiv­ity, mo­bil­ity, cre­ate jobs and spur eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity in the re­gions.”

The project’s im­ple­men­ta­tion was led by the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion, Bases Con­ver­sion and Devel­op­ment Au­thor­ity and Clark In­ter­na­tional Air­port Corp.

The path to ex­pand­ing the Clark Air­port was long and spanned ad­min­is­tra­tions. Many might not even re­call at­tempts by the pri­vate sec­tor to build a new ter­mi­nal late dur­ing the Ar­royo ad­min­is­tra­tion. This was the Philco Aero Group of busi­ness­man Ri­cardo Pen­son that at one point had an agree­ment with con­glom­er­ate San Miguel Corp. to back the Clark Air­port project.

Un­for­tu­nately for Philco Aero, its pro­posal for Clark Air­port crossed over into the Aquino ad­min­is­tra­tion. It was promptly shelved given the govern­ment’s dis­taste for un­so­licited pro­jects. In­ter­est in Clark Air­port and even Clark Freeport Zone saw a resur­gence dur­ing the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion. The new ter­mi­nal was the first and, so far, the only project to be im­ple­mented un­der the so-called hy­brid pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship scheme.

That is an­other way of say­ing there were sep­a­rate auc­tions for build­ing the fa­cil­ity it­self and the 25-year op­er­a­tions and main­te­nance com­po­nent. All that is left now is for the fa­cil­ity to ac­tu­ally open and serve those peo­ple able and will­ing to fly dur­ing the pan­demic. We heard the event with Mr. Duterte on July 17 was ini­tially meant to be an in­au­gu­ra­tion but was down­graded to an in­spec­tion in­stead. Per­haps there were fi­nal kinks to work out and it def­i­nitely would not hurt to stretch out and max­i­mize public­ity for what is a suc­cess­ful project.

Get­ting big in­fra­struc­ture pro­jects to this stage is never an easy task and con­grat­u­la­tions to all par­ties should be in or­der.

PHOTOS lifted from facebook page of Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat

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