President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has ordered the development of the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in Clark, Pampanga into the country’s premier airport, amid the plan to shut down the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Pasay City.
A Malacañang statement issued on Tuesday said Mrs Arroyo gave the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and other government agencies “six months to one year" to turn the DMIA into the country’s leading airport.
Lorelei Fajardo, deputy presidential spokesperson, told reporters that the move was in anticipation of the possible closure of NAIA.
“(DOTC) Secretary (Leandro) Mendoza said that the NAIA 1 might be downgraded and it might eventually be closed down," Fajardo said.
She said that while NAIA Terminal 1 remained as the country’s premier airport, there was still a need to expand and improve the airport’s facilities.
“Ang problema natin sa NAIA, is masikip na talaga,… there’s no longer room for expansion. Unlike in Clark, kasi malaki iyong area natin doon so that’s why we’re transferring it to DMIA (NAIA is too crowded, there’s no longer room for expansion. Unlike in Clark, we have a bigger area there, so that’s why were transferring it to DMIA)" she said.
Fajardo said that even with the opening of the controversial NAIA Terminal 3, accommodation of tourists won’t be enough.
DMIA, which has a runway of 3.2 kilometers (km), is named after Mrs Arroyo's father, the late former President Diosdado Macapagal.
NAIA, with a 2.6-km runway, is named after former Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr, whose widow, former President Corazon Aquino, joined calls for Mrs Arroyo's ouster in the wake of the "Hello, Garci" wiretapping controversy in 2005.
According to the Palace statement, Mrs Arroyo's order supports her vision of Clark and Subic as the country's logistics hub in the Asia-Pacific region and the new international gateway of the country.
It said DMIA is one of the biggest aviation complexes in Asia, whose runway would be extended to four kilometers to accommodate new generation wide-bodied aircraft.
"The DMIA is certified by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) with ratings of Category I for Precision Approach Runway and Category IX for the Emergency Services," it said.
It added DMIA "is well-equipped with instrument landing system, navigational aids, meteorological equipment, and complete airfield lighting system." - GMANews.TV