Clark International Corp. said Wednesday seven foreign airlines have expressed interest in establishing operations at the former US military airbase.

CIAC president Emigdio Tanjuatco III identified the seven airlines as Jet Star of Singapore, Thai Smile of Thailand, Rayani Air of Malaysia, Express Air of Indonesia, Air India, V-Air of Taiwan and Airline 4.0.

Airlines currently operating in Clark include Qatar Airways, Asiana Airlines, Dragonair, Jin Air, CebGo, Tiger Air of Singapore, Air Asia Berhad and Cebu Pacific Air.

These airlines mount flights to Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Macau, Pudong, Incheon, Doha, Dubai, Davao, Cebu and Kalibo.

Emirates Airlines announced that it would launch a daily service from Dubai to Cebu and Clark starting March 30, using a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

Tanjuatco earlier said he was in talks with other carriers to expand operations in Clark as the airport can accommodate five million passengers annually.

CIAC plans to construct a P7.2-billion low-cost passenger terminal building, designed by Aeroport De Paris of France.

The first phase would increase the terminal's capacity to eight million from the current five million passengers a year, while the second phase would increase the capacity to 46 million by 2025.

The government was also looking into the feasibility of bidding out the Clark Airport operations and maintenance and the construction of the legacy terminal and improvement of the facilities required on the airside and landslide.

Aside from Clark, the government plans to auction off the P74.56 billion NAIA Development Project, which aims to turn over the operation and maintenance of the country's main gateway to the private sector under a public-private partnership scheme.

It also aims to tap the private sector to redevelop the airport's facilities. The plan is now being studied by the board of the National Economic and Development Authority.

A recent study done by the Japan International Cooperation Agency showed NAIA would exceed its designed capacity this year, with its four terminals handling 37.78 million passengers, above the 30-million capacity.

By 2040, passenger traffic would reach 101.49 million, according to the Jica study.

Source: thestandard