The Clark International Airport has a brand-new passenger terminal but its opening has been set for January 2021 to allow a “smooth transition” to the new facility.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) announced the completion of the construction of the new passenger terminal at Pampanga gateway, located about 100 kilometers north of Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).

Built by the consortium of Megawide Construction Corp. and GMR Infrastructure, the project has a capacity of eight million passengers a year.

Goddes Hope Libiran, assistant transportation secretary, said some remaining work had to be done on the interiors before the terminal could be occupied.

“There is a need to ensure operational readiness and transfer,” she said.

The terminal doubles Clark Airport’s current capacity. The existing facility, which has a capacity of over four million passengers a year, will be decommissioned, the government previously announced.

The new terminal is completed at a time when the once soaring aviation sector is grounded by depressed demand and travel bans amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Libiran said the facility would be ready but flights would “largely depends on airlines’ commercial considerations.”

The completion nevertheless signals that big-ticket public and private infrastructure projects remain underway amid the global health crisis.

“Despite the current challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Transportation, Bases Conversion and Development Authority and GMR Megawide ensured the accelerated construction works at [Clark Airport],” the DOTr said in a statement.

Clark Airport remains the administration’s only completed hybrid public private partnership project.

The construction was handled by Megawide-GMR while the operations and maintenance were later bid out and awarded to a consortium led by JG Summit Holdings, Filinvest Development Corp. together with a unit of Singapore’s Changi Group under a 25-year concession.

They organized the venture called Luzon International Premier Airport Development Corp. that assumed operations of Clark Airport on Aug. 16 last year.

The Clark Airport anchors the 9,450-hectare New Clark City, which will include government and business districts.

The DOTr is also building a railway line that will link Manila and the Clark Freeport Zone.

Apart from Clark Airport, conglomerate San Miguel Corp. is set to build a massive international airport complex in Bulacan province while the Cavite government is seeking to build its own major gateway in Sangley Point, Cavite.

The Megawide-GMR tandem, which operates the Mactan Cebu International Airport, is also in talks with the government to upgrade and operate Naia. INQ

By: Miguel R. Camus –