Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Lucio Tan eyes PAL flying school in Subic Freeport

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – Dr. Lucio Tan, chairman and chief executive officer of Philippine Airlines (PAL), is looking into the establishment here of a flying school under his flagship airlines brand.

The business tycoon flew into the Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA) here last Sunday for an ocular inspection of airport facilities, and was welcomed by Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma.

During the visit, Tan inquired about the state of facilities at the airport terminal, as well as other business potentials and tourism facilities that would complement an aviation-related trade.

“He was all smiles since the moment he landed at the SBIA on board his helicopter,” Eisma said. “The SBMA technical working group made a presentation showing the full potential of the Subic airport and I believe he was very much impressed.”

The PAL chairman, along with his entourage, closely inspected the Subic airport terminal, and asked for areas that could possibly be used for restaurants or passenger lounges.

Eisma, meanwhile, briefed him on the design and purpose of the terminal and pointed out that it used to accommodate local and international flights.

“Despite not being fully utilized, the SBIA equipment all work properly. We have kept them in tip-top shape,” Eisma pointed out.

The SBIA, which was completed in 1996 in time for Subic’s hosting of the APEC summit, boasts of a 10,000-square meter passenger terminal that has two gates, two jetways, a closed-circuit television system, and a 9,000-foot runway.

It also has a military ramp in the southwest area, which is used by US Air Force planes under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the United States. Meanwhile, its midway ramp is being utilized by a flight school here for aircraft parking.

Tan and his group also went on a rolling tour of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone and looked into areas such as the Alava Wharf and the Cubi residential area.

The businessman, who asked if there were enough hotels that could accommodate the possible influx of airline passengers in Subic, was reportedly thrilled over the tourism sites that abound in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

Early this month, leaders of the Hong Kong-based Asian Business Aviation Association said in a forum here that the SBIA could be developed as a business and general aviation (BA/GA) airport to help increase people mobility, as well as boost business operations in the region.

Eisma said the agency is now aggressively promoting Subic as an aviation hub and is entertaining all possible options to maximize the use of its airport facilities.

“It is a challenge to us to get SBIA running. We’re all for these suggestions to turn Subic into an aviation hub that would cater to tourists, as well as traders because that would mean more business for the Freeport,” she added. 

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