MILITANT GROUPS OPPOSE OPEN SKIES POLICY; CLARK AIRPORT INT'L FLIGHTS IN '05

MANILA, January 31, 2004 (STAR) By Sandy Araneta - Several left-leaning organizations from various aviation companies led by the Philippine Airlines Employees Union (PALEA) marched yesterday to the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) complex in Pasay City to protest the Open Skies policy.

The protesters, numbering about 200 men and women from PALEA, Alab Katipunan, Mamamayang Kabalikat ng Bansa (MAKABANSA), Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawang Pilipino (KPMP), and the Aviation Workers for Employment and Solidarity (AWES) walked from the Our Lady of Airways Parish Church (OLAP) along MIA Road near Sucat Avenue to the CAB office along MIA Road.

The protesters brought placards, red flags, a Philippine flag and banners urging the CAB to trash the Open Skies agreement. They also demanded the resignation of CAB Director Alberto Lim, whom the protesters accused of lobbying for the approval of the Open Skies policy.

The same group held a rally at the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) for the same reasons.

The Open Skies policy agreement allows, among other things, unlimited passenger flights between the United States and the Philippines.

Protesters claim that the agreement is disadvantageous to the Philippines and will result in loss of jobs for people in the aviation industry.

Clark airport gets ready for more flights By Ding Cervantes The Philippine Star 01/31/2004

CLARK FIELD, Pampanga The Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in this special economic zone now boasts of a reconstructed apron and taxiway, which cost P220 million to complete.

This reportedly paves the way for plans to gradually divert international passenger flights from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to the 2,500-hectare DMIA starting next year.

Bienvenido Manga, DMIA general manager, told The STAR that the strengthened apron and taxiway, which were inaugurated yesterday, have made the DMIA the only airport in the country which can withstand the impact of MD-11, Boeing 727, 757 and 767 and other wide-bodied aircraft.

The reconstruction, done by the RD Policarpio company, was financed by a loan from the Philippine Veterans Bank.

Adelberto Yap, DMIA president and chief executive officer, said negotiations are underway for Phase I of the proposed $50-million modern passenger terminal.

"We already have bidders who propose to undertake the project under various schemes such as built-operate-transfer since we have to finish the terminal within 18 months," he said.

Yap said the long-delayed modern railway from Clark to Metro Manila will start this first quarter following the awarding of the contract to a Chinese consortium.

The project will be complemented by the construction of the Subic-Clark tollway that will also link with the Luisita economic zone in Tarlac.

"All these (projects) are expected to boost plans to transform the DMIA into a premier gateway," he said.

Korean investor Yoon Soo Cho, general manager of the Clark International Travel Agency, said Korean Airlines now plans to increase its flights between Incheon International Airport and Clark from three to five times a week, using an Airbus with a seating capacity of 177 passengers.

Yap said Nippon Cargo and Gulf Air are now negotiating flights here. Asiana Airlines, another Korean carrier, is also expected to increase its flights from the DMIA.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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