Philippine Airlines is studying the transfer of its turboprop operations to Clark International Airport in Pampanga to help decongest Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City.
“We are working on it. The reason why the government wants us to move some of flights to Clark is because we want to decongest Manila to prevent inconvenience to the passengers,” PAL president and chief operating officer Jaime Bautista told reporters Wednesday night during the launching of MyPAL Roaming.
Bautista said the airline would study the impact of the proposal on passengers and on the company’s operating cost.
“Not all [our domestic flights would be transferred]. That is why we will work with them. We will present to them our position,” he said.
Bautista said the government should provide additional infrastructure before transferring some of its operations to Clark.
PAL owns four Bombardier DHC 8-300 aircraft and five Bombardier DHC 8-400 aircraft which PAL dry leased to PAL Express.
PAL’s domestic network, including those operated by partner PAL Express, covers 31 cities and towns in the Philippines.
It serves the following domestic destinations: Bacolod, Basco, Butuan, Busuanga, Cagayan, Calbayog, Catarman, Caticlan, Cebu, Cotabato, Davao, Dipolog, Dumaguete, General Santos, Iloilo, Jolo, Kalibo, Laoag, Legazpi, Manila, Masbate, Naga, Ozamiz, Puerto Princesa, Roxas, Surigao, Tablas, Tacloban, Tagbilaran, Tuguegarao and Zamboanga.
Domestic operations contributed 20 percent to PAL ’s total revenues last year.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade earlier said the agency planned to ask airlines to transfer their turboprop operations to Clark as a part of the government program to decongest Naia.
Japan International Cooperation Agency said Naia was expected to exceed its maximum handling capacity this year, when the airport would handle 37.78 million passengers. Its maximum handling capacity stands at 35 million passengers a year.
PAL incurred additional costs of at least P5.7 million due to diverted flights brought about by the closure of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Monday.
“We have to spend more fuel. For example, all the flights diverted to Clark, we have to load additional 15 tons of fuel. It cost us a few thousands of dollars. Let’s say $15,000 per flight. We have eight diverted flights to Clark and then we have to pay parking fee,” he said.
The Manila International Airport Authority last Monday ordered the temporary closure of the runway to avoid safety issues and untoward incidents to aircrafts and passengers. The small asphalt cracks observed by airport crew in the morning got considerably bigger due to continued landing and takeoff.