Clark International Airport (CRK) becomes the first airport in the Philippines to receive a global health accreditation. The Airports Council International (ACI), a non-profit organization representing the world’s airports, bestowed CRK the Airport Health Accreditation, acknowledging its initiatives to provide a safe experience for all travelers.
According to ACI, CRK’s efforts passed the recommended health protocols outlined in the ACI Aviation Business Restart and Recovery guidelines and ICAO Council Aviation Recovery Task Force Recommendations.
Stringent Health Measures
Launched in July 2020, the ACI Airport Health Accreditation evaluates airports’ new health measures in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, it assesses cleaning and disinfection, physical distancing, staff protection, physical layout, passenger communications, and passenger facilities.
The hygiene protocols in key areas in airports, including terminal access and check-in area, security screening, boarding gates and lounges, retail, food, and beverage areas are a consideration for accreditation.
ACI looks into practices implemented in gate equipment (boarding bridges), escalators and elevators, border control areas and facilities, and baggage claim area and arrivals exit.
LIPAD, CRK’s operator, expressed delight over the recognition, while reassuring travelers, employees, and the public that health and safety are their top priority.
New Normal for CRK
Since the pandemic hit, CRK has implemented health measures in their premises to reduce the coronavirus risk among the traveling public.
When the government implemented the strictest stay-at-home policy, the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), they have introduced ‘new normal’ practices, including cleaning and disinfecting key areas regularly, providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees, and installing social distancing floor markers and signs, according to Manila Bulletin.
Check-in counters had acrylic partitions to reduce contact between airport personnel and travelers.
Protecting the workforce, the aviation hub’s management arranged a work-from-home scheme for most of the employees, as mentioned in this Manila Bulletin report. Only those working in operations, emergency services, and security were on the airport’s premises, managing service and cargo flights at the time.
Even as quarantine measures eased over time, CRK strengthened its health protocols. In June, they released queueing guidelines for the public. Some of the protocols include limiting the number of people boarding the aircraft at a time, implementing a one-carry-on rule for each passenger, and allowing passengers to enter the terminal only three hours before the scheduled flight.
Meanwhile, the necessary documents passengers must fill out and submit include the health declaration card, case investigation form, and oath of undertaking.
As part of the new normal, CRK adopted a digital solution for their contact tracing efforts, as reported by CNN Philippines. Along with other aviation hubs in the country, they’re promoting the app called Traze. All inbound passengers are required to use the app before entering the airport premises, beginning on November 28.
New, Modern Developments
Despite the restrictions brought by the current health crisis, the new passenger terminal building in CRK was completed last September, as Business Mirror reported. The Department of Transportation (DOTr), Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), and GMR Megawide accelerated construction works, while maintaining strict health protocols to beat the October deadline.
Once it opens, the airport’s operational capacity will see a triple in passenger volume, from the current 4.2 million to 12.2 million every year.
Meanwhile, the construction for the Malolos-Clark railway will start before 2020 ends. In October, the DOTr awarded the three remaining civil contracts worth more than $1.7 billion.
The first contract covers the building of 17 kilometers of elevated rail viaduct, seven bridges, and two railway stations. The second involves viaducts stretching over 16 kilometers and a railway station. The last package consists of 12 kilometers of viaducts and two railway stations.
As a whole, the transportation system runs 53 kilometers, connecting Malolos and Clark International Airport. It is set to cut travel time between Clark and Manila to about 35 minutes from the current two to three hours. Its maximum rail speed is 160 kilometers per hour.
According to DOTr, the construction project will generate 4,000 local construction jobs in the next three years. Once completed by 2025, the railway will take in 1,400 professionals.
Infrastructure builds will particularly benefit the real estate industry. With projects moving outside of the capital region, property experts are optimistic that this will spur demand in the provinces.
Sources: CRK, ACI, Manila Bulletin, CNN Philippines, Business Mirror