The under used Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA) funded by World Bank loan during the late 90’s by Dick Gordon, pioneer administrator of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), his ambitious attempt to convert the former airstrip facilities of the US Navy.
Moreover, Gordon succeeded to convinced the giant airline4 cargo company FEDEX to establish its cargo hub at Subic, which the company did until it moved its operation to China. Fedex generated jobs to local workers who did sorting works. It also provided overtime benefits to Subic BOC personnel and trucking business to a favored personality and made Alberto Lina, owner of Air 21, a multi-millionaire, according to sources.
But what ever good things has it ends. When the airline cargo firm left for China, the SBIA operations also declined and the ambition to cater to passenger market was not attained . When Eedex decided to resumption operations in the Philippines , it went to Clark as its new hub.
Attempt during the tenure of lady lawyer Wilma Eisma to revive SBIA and up grading its facilities also failed to lure commercial airlines to consider SBIA as an alternative port. What SBIA got were pilot training company. Now according to the grapevine, the US based Cerberus Capital Management LP, which acquired the shipyard and facilities of Hanjin Shipyard is seriously eyeing the acquisition of SBIA, under a management arrangement set up with SBMA authorities.
We leanred that several meeting were already held to discuss the business venture to manage the airport and promote it was cargo and parcel hub with Fedex, DHL and LBC as main tenants. Cerberus, being an investment firm is bullish on the development of SBIA as exclusive enclave for cargo airline companies. It will operate a portion of the huge Hanjin complex as a shipyard and ship repair facility to service U*S Navy vessels operating within the Indo-Pacific area rather sailing back to the US for repairs. Half of the Hanjin property will be utilized by the Philippine Navy for ship repair activities also, local sources said.
While the discussion is still on the talking table, we are confident that there is a positive future for SBIA to come alive and generate job opportunities to residents of Bataan, Olongapo and Zambales, just like during the late 90’s and early 2000.
SBMA Chairman- administrator Rolen C. Paulino, faced the panel hearing of the House Committee on Ways and Means, chaired by Albay Rep. Joey Salceda last week, where he explained the process of cargo activities at the Subic Freeport. Paulino said he was able to clarify the misconception of Salceda and there is no smuggling activities at the Freeport but misdeclaration of cargos unloaded at the Port of Subic, operated by a private company.
The twin container yards inside the Port is operated by Subic Bay International Terminal Corp., and Subic ICTSI, both wholly subsidiaries of Razon owned ICTSI.As the sayi9ng goes ” all is well that ends well.”