New highs are being experienced at the Clark International Airport, otherwise known as DMIA, and we are not talking aeronautical elevations here. We are referring to the volume of airline passenger traffic at the countries now fastest growing airport. Clark is experiencing a phenomenal growth period due to the abundance of budget airlines and the desire for affordable travel by an increasing populous with spendable income.
The airport experienced an impressive 71 percent growth in passenger volume last year. Clark tallied a record 1.3 million passengers in 2012. This was 533,000 passengers greater than the 767,000 recorded in 2011. Last Nov. 21, the Airport hosted its five-millionth passenger since beginning commercial flight operations in 2003.
Besides the standard carriers, there are now a total of eight budget-type airlines offering great deals for resource-limited travelers through the gateway. As it turns out, 77 percent of all travelers or 1.013 million people used these budget carries for their travel needs last year. Clark airport’s achievement of impressive growth has encouraged the arrival of passengers to the airport from as far away as Northern Luzon, Metro Manila and Southern Luzon to experience Clark’s great rates to exciting domestic and international destinations.
With 2013 expected to be another year of GDP growth figures in the 7.5 to 8 percent rate, other nations would be enviable to be in the Philippines position. These rates of GDP growth are helping the country progress and eventually inch-out of third world status. Add to this the record-low interest rates, low inflation and a strong stock market, and we see the Philippines as the bright shining star of Southeast Asia. The increase in Clark air travel is but one indicator of the Philippine’s turnaround on the world economic scene.
All of these factors are combining to help create a larger middleclass and offering families the chance to move out of abstract poverty. Individuals previously unable to afford airline travel to foreign destinations have skyrocketed. Additionally, the affordable pricing of these Clark Airport carriers is additionally causing a compound effect, adding to the phenomenal growth of the facility and the ability for more individuals to afford airline travel.
Big things are on the horizon for Clark International Airport. The existing passenger terminal is scheduled for a P360 million expansion to help accommodate the continual growth expected throughout this year. Add to this a proposal by CIAC to build a P12 billion terminal that would allow for at least 10 to 12 million passengers a year. The proposal submitted to the Department of Transportation and Communications is looking to build an international terminal similar to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia.
Additional support is expected for Clark Airport in the coming months and years. Already an executive order was signed by President Aquino encouraging local carriers to use Clark as an alternative airport to Metro Manila’s NAIA facility in order to help traffic and congestion at the metro airport.
In order to assist in the easy use of Clark by Manila travelers, a new dedicated first-class bus service is being launched on January 15, 2013 in order to ferry passengers back and forth to Clark. Three separate bus companies are going to be participating in the service. The service will depart Trinoma Mall in Quezon City, offer a designated lounge area as passengers wait for the bus, and only cost P200 for a direct, non-stop trip to Clark.
While Metro Manila will most likely always remain the main core capital city and gateway for the Philippines, Clark is quickly becoming the de-facto, less-congested, easier and more affordable alternative travel gateway that will only continue to set new heights of quality and offer individuals more options for their travel experience.