CLARK International Airport saw a 63% surge in passenger traffic in the first half of the year, according to its operator.

In a statement Sunday, Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) said it recorded 2.1 million passengers at the airport north of Manila from Jan. 1 to Jun. 30, the biggest volume it recorded since it started operating 24 years ago.

It said the tally comprised of 913,724 travelers from international flights and 1,190,502 travelers from domestic flights.

“CIAC is able to sustain the surge in passenger numbers largely because of the marketability of Clark Airport and the civil aviation complex and because President Duterte willed it, the national government pushed for it, and Transportation Secretary Art Tugade guided us through,” CIAC President Jaime Alberto C. Melo was quoted in the statement as saying.

CIAC noted its biggest passenger volume was recorded in the month of May, when it saw 395,847 travelers passing through the Clark airport.

The growth in volume moves CIAC closer to its target of registering at least 4 million passengers by the end of the year. The Clark airport is being pushed by the government as an alternative to Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), which is operating beyond its capacity.

“For its excellent flight punctuality performance and competency in providing exceptional air services, Clark Airport looks forward to receiving another impressive two-star award from the Official Aviation Guide (OAG), an air travel intelligence company based in United Kingdom, after garnering 75.3 percent On-Time Performance (OTP) rating from June 2018 to May 2019,” CIAC said.

Clark International Airport has an annual capacity of 4.2 million passengers in its existing terminal building.

A new passenger terminal building with an annual capacity of 8 million passengers is currently being built by Megawide Construction Corp. and GMR Infrastructure Ltd., which is expected to be completed by next year. — Denise A. Valdez