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FAST-TRACK REOPENING OF SUBIC AIRPORT – GORDON

Senator Dick Gordon said the latest incident at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) which caused delay and cancellation of flights merely drove home the need to fast-track the reopening of the Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA).

“Airports are the country’s doorway to tourism, trade and investment. Thus, when flights are delayed or cancelled, it incurs cost, not only to passengers who are stressed and inconvenienced because they miss their work, classes or other appointments, but also to the airlines and companies doing trade and commerce,” Gordon said.

“When flights are delayed or cancelled, it incurs cost, not only to passengers who are stressed and inconvenienced because they miss their work, classes or other appointments, but also to the airlines and companies doing trade and commerce.”

The seasoned legislator pointed out that if the SBIA was already operational, flights could have been diverted to both SBIA and the Clark International Airport (CIA) which would have mitigated the effects of the closure of NAIA’s main runway last August 17.

“As it was, passengers of cancelled flights were still stranded at the NAIA up to Sunday and awaiting announcements on their flights. If the SBIA was already opened, flights could have been diverted to the two airports – SBIA and CIA,” the veteran legislator said.

“Passengers of cancelled flights were still stranded at the NAIA up to Sunday and awaiting announcements on their flights. If the Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA) was already opened, flights could have been diverted to the two airports – SBIA and Clark International Airport (CIA).”

The senator, who was founding chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), recounted that in December, 1995, a China Airlines jumbo jet bound for Taiwan was ditched in the NAIA runway and international flights had to be diverted to SBIA, which was then newly-opened.

“During the time, I was having lunch with the then Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten, who was visiting Subic. SBMA was hosting a luncheon at the old Officers Club. As we could see the Subic Airport from across the bay, he asked me if Boeing 747s could land there, I said of course as the former airport used to land C5 military aircrafts. Then suddenly, I was surprised to see an actual Boeing 747 land at the airport and a few minutes later, followed with more 747s. I suddenly thought it was my lucky day. I was later informed that NAIA was closed and was diverting flights to Subic,” he recalled.

“Although there was short notice, I immediately put together hundreds of volunteers and staff to the airport. They helped unload 1,490 passengers, including their baggage, from four 747 jumbo jets (Singapore Airlines from Taiwan and Singapore; Qatar Airlines from Bangkok) pending transfer and departure. We worked late into the night to take care of and secure the stranded passengers,” Gordon added.

He earlier stressed the need to complete the rehabilitation of the SBIA to enable it to return to full operation by the second quarter of 2019. He also called on the Department of Budget and Management to facilitate the bidding for airport equipment as soon as possible.

 

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