PAL boss has doubts over plan to reopen Subic Airport to passengers

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Subic Airport
An aerial view of Subic Airport. Picture via Wikimedia Commons.

The boss of Philippine Airlines has expressed doubts over a plan to reopen Subic Airport to passengers.

Jaime Bautista, the president and COO of the national carrier, said: “For passenger operations, maybe it’s too close to Clark but maybe for business jets, for general aviation, I think it will be good if Subic will be opened for that type of operation.

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“Right now we don’t operate in Subic. I think it’s too close to Clark.”

He remarks come after the government announced yesterday (Wednesday, June 4) that it was looking to reopen the airport in the second quarter of next year.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said: “We are now closely looking at making the Subic Airport operational once again. We are in serious talks with the Subic authorities.”

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Tugade was speaking at the economic managers’ press briefing on the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure programme at the site of the soon-to-be-built National Government Administrative Center in New Clark City.

He added that the revival of the airport at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone would complement development at the Clark Freeport Zone, as the two zones would be connected by a new railway.

He also said the reopening of the airport was in response to a request by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), the investment promotion agency that administers the free port.

The airport was abandoned by courier FedEx in 2009 after it relocated its Asian hub to China.

Tugade said the airport’s structure was still sound, but in terms of aviation safety standards, new airport equipment had to be acquired.

Last year, the SBMA said the upgrade of the equipment of Subic Bay International Airport would cost about $40 million.

As we reported on Sunday, PAL has announced new domestic routes out of Clark. These are Siargao, Surigao del Norte; San Vicente, Palawan; Cauayan, Isabela; and San Jose, Mindoro.

These routes will join the list of PAL destinations already serving Clark. These are Bacolod, Basco, Busuanga, Cagayan de Oro, Calbayog, Catarman, Caticlan, Cauayan, Cebu, Davao, Masbate, Naga, Puerto Princesa, San Jose, San Vicente, Siargao, Tagbilaran, Virac and Seoul in South Korea. 

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