The emergence of Clark International Airport as a secondary air hub in the Philippines is opening up new business opportunities for travel suppliers in pairing destinations in the country.
Due to runway congestion at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Philippine Airlines (PAL) was forced to start flying from Clark to Caticlan (Boracay) last December, followed by Incheon last month and soon Davao.
Clark International Airport's departure hall
Qatar Airways returned to Clark recently with a daily flight to Doha, following the lead of Emirates which has been flying from Dubai to Cebu via Clark since last year. Both also fly from NAIA.
Cebu Pacific, meanwhile, has existing flights from Clark to Hong Kong and Macau.
Travelexperts consultant Arnie Bayag told TTG Asia that increased domestic and regional flights via Clark present new business opportunities as travellers from Central and Northern Luzon need not pass through Manila anymore.
Bayag will look into developing packages covering destinations that PAL flies to from Clark, which can include Caticlan to enable passengers to connect directly to Cebu. He thinks access through Clark will prove popular as the city is “green, with good hotels and restaurants”.
Vic Chan, general manager of the new Midori Clark Hotel and Casino, is discussing with travel consultants the possibility of creating hotel and tour packages combining Manila for shopping, Clark for staycation, Subic for golf and adventure, etc.
Chan said Clark Freeport Zone is fast developing as a tourist and business destination and more investments will flow in as the Philippine economy remains robust, underscoring the importance of air links and transport infrastructure in the area’s tourism development.
As well, Manila clients prefer Clark airport over NAIA as the former is more relaxed and convenient with free shuttle service provided from TriNoma (Quezon City) to the airport, according to Sabina Pe, managing director of Bridges Travel and Tours.
She added that it is hard to get a seat from Manila to Europe and other destinations, so Clark is proving to be a better option especially as Qatar Airways has ongoing promotions at Clark.