CebuPac starts China flights via Clark

CLARK FREEPORT — The Clark International Airport (CRK) is closing 2013 on a good note as it starts servicing the Shanghai-Clark route through Cebu Pacific Air beginning Saturday, an airport official said.

Cebu Pacific will fly twice weekly to and from the Chinese city for a year under an exclusive arrangement with Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino here, said Victor Jose Luciano, president and chief executive officer of the state-owned Clark International Airport Corp.

Cebu Pacific is dedicating a 124-seat Airbus A319 for the Shanghai-Clark flights, Luciano told reporters on Thursday.

“We are also looking at flights to Guangzhou and other cities in China. Air China and TigerAir Philippines are interested,” he said.

The 90-percent passenger load of Middle East airlines Qatar and Emirates, which began flights in October, and the Davao route of TigerAir Philippines since Dec. 17, overturned the 30-percent fall in passenger volume when AirAsia Philippines, trying to boost the operations of its partner Zest Air, moved to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

“This 2014, we expect passenger volume to pick up at 1.4 million to 1.7 million,” Luciano said, referring to clients of budget and regular carriers.

Passenger volume at CRK reached 1.2 million in 2012. The 2,500-hectare former United States Air Force facility was largely unused in the early years of base conversion.

CRK, now under the Department of Transportation and Communications, has a new P360-million passenger terminal that is designed to accommodate five million passengers a year.

Also operating at CRK are Airphil Express, Seair-Tiger Airways, Jin Air, Zest Air, Asiana Airlines and Dragonair.

SIA Engineering Philippines is also building two hangars to boost its maintenance, repair and overhaul services at the Clark civil aviation complex.

Luciano said the hangars would service twin-aisle aircraft such as the B747 and B777. SIA Engineering Philippines is a joint venture project of SIA Engineering of Singapore and Cebu Pacific Air.