Airport official: Expect more flights from and to Clark airport

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines Deputy Director Manuel Tamayo said airline companies will soon increase the number of flights to and from Clark International Airport in Pampanga to decongest Manila's airport.

"Well, if you're going home to Quezon City, Clark is just an hour away. From Quezon City, if you want to go to MIA (Manila International Airport), that's two hours," Tamayo said at the meeting of the House Committee on Transportation on Wednesday.

Decongesting Manila airports

Airport authorities and airline representatives faced tough questions from congressmen during the hearing.

Tamayo, when asked to explain the perpetual air congestion problems at the airport, blamed poor infrastructure.

"In most modern runways now, there are parallel runways. The airport design of MIA is perpendicular. It was designed in the 1950s when air traffic congestion was not that much. Among the countries in the region, we are lagging behind," he said.

To ease tight traffic, airport officials said they issued a department order in October to prioritize commercial flights and move out small aviation activities of private individuals and corporations to other airports.

Tamayo said airport equipment undergo maintenance in preparation for the holidays.

Avoiding Christmas fiasco

Lawmakers called on airline companies to prepare early for the holidays.

Transportation committee head Cesar Sarmiento recalled the Cebu Pacific incident in December 2014, which affected more than 10,000 passengers on Christmas day.

"We call it the December fiasco, kung saan nagkagulo talaga [for when it really got messy], and that led to imposition of penalty. First time in aviation history that an airline company was asked to pay ₱52 million," he said.

A House panel hearing was conducted in January 2015 to investigate the airline's failure to serve its clients. Cebu Pacific chief executive officer Lance Gokongwei apologized before lawmakers.

Sarmiento hopes airline companies learn from their failures.

"Sana po ang Christmas celebration convenient, hindi po malaking problema" [I hope that the Christmas celebration will be convenient and that there won't be any major problems], he said.

Sarmiento warned penalties await airlines that fail to comply.