, DECEMBER 6, 2006 (STAR) The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) is holding a Christmas raffle program for overseas Filipino workers and Filipino tourists at the NAIA to give them a warm welcome or send-off at the airport this Christmas season.

Under its "Airfare to Remember" Christmas raffle promo, the MIAA will give away gifts and prizes to arriving and departing Filipinos who will travel through the NAIA Terminal I and II international terminals from Nov. 21, 2006 to Jan. 21, 2007.

For departing OFWs, the MIAA will give away gift packs to 10 winning OFWs each day under the minor prize category; one brand-new tricycle with a sidecar as a semi-major prize; and two low-cost housing units from New San Jose Builders for the two winners under the grand prize category.

Arriving Filipino travelers, whether they are returning OFWs or tourists, will all have a chance to win a Mitsubishi Adventure.

To avail of a raffle coupon, OFWs or Filipino travelers will have to present their boarding pass and passport at the "Airfare to Remember" booths at the NAIA arrival areas. Relatives of MIAA employees and its sponsors up to the third consanguinity are not allowed to join the raffle.

Alfonso Cusi, MIAA general manager, said the idea behind the raffle was to make the homecoming of the hundreds of thousands of OFWs more warm and memorable this Christmas.

"We wish to make the air travel of our ‘kababayans’ special this Christmas. If successful, with special thanks for the support of our sponsors, we hope to continue this gift-giving to our kababayans at the NAIA a Christmas tradition in the following years to come," Cusi said.

Cusi said that they will also prepare for the visit of President Arroyo on Dec. 18, who will welcome and thank returning OFWs transiting through the NAIA for their billions in dollar remittances that are credited for boosting the economy.

To ease the travel of OFWs at the NAIA, the MIAA has assigned special immigration and customs lanes both at the NAIA Terminal I and II.

"We know our OFWs come home to their families after a long continuous work contract abroad, and we want them to be reunited with their families as soon as possible," Cusi said. — Rainier Allan Ronda with Hannah Lamera

Clark-Saudi flights to start next month By Ding Cervantes The Philippine Star 12/06/2006

CLARK FIELD, Pampanga — Saudi Arabia-based Tair Airlines will begin its Clark-Riyadh-Jeddah service by mid-January next year, a development that is expected to ease travel for some 1.4 million Filipino workers in Saudi whose families live in provinces north of Manila.

Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) president Jose Victor Luciano said yesterday that the Philippine and Saudi governments have issued the necessary permits and other requirements for Tair Airlines to serve the route.

"The flights will definitely start on the second week of January," Luciano said.

The government has estimated that the majority of Filipino workers in Saudi are from northern Luzon provinces.

Luciano said some 30,000 Filipinos in Saudi wanted to go home for Christmas but could not do so as all flights to the Philippines had already been booked.

"The new flights of Tair will, although belatedly, afford them the chance to go home. In the next Christmas season, the flights will ease up shortages," he said. Tair will fly four times a week to Diosdado Macapagal International Airport. The Boeing 747 aircraft to be deployed for the service can accommodate 460 passengers.

Luciano said the new service will not be covered by limitations under Executive Order 500-A since the airlines will fly only between Clark and Saudi Arabia. EO 500-A bars foreign airlines from flying to the Philippines and to another foreign destination.

Luciano also announced that the P148 million expansion of the DMIA will go full blast in January and will be completed by June.

"The expansion will enable the airport terminal to accommodate another one million passengers per year in addition to its 1.5 million capacity now," he added.

"P68 million of the total cost will be for civil works and the remaining P80 million for equipment," Luciano said. The new equipment will include an additional luggage conveyor and an X-ray machine.

In addition to the new Tair flights, Malaysia-based Air Asia airlines will also fly between Clark and Bangkok by January and February next year, Luciano said.

Hong Kong Airways will also launch Hong Kong-Clark flights four times a day starting Dec. 10, using Boeing 737 aircraft that can carry 145 passengers.

DMIA accommodates 77 passenger and cargo flights per week. If EO 500-A is scrapped as urged by some groups in Central Luzon, the number is expected to reach 80 by yearend.

United Parcels Service, Pacific East Asia Cargo Airlines, and Yangtze River Express are among the cargo airlines operating at the airport.

As of last August, cargo volume at Clark already reached 11,800 tons, he said

CIAC vice president Romeo Dyoco reported that the DMIA terminal processed 302,939 passengers from January to August, or an average of 37,867 passengers per month. He noted that in 2005, the average number was only 23,067 passengers per month.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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