Tugade says AirAsia boss willing to build airports
Malaysian tycoon Tony Fernandes has expressed interest in expanding his airline operations in the Philippines, even building airports, to show his faith in the country and trust in the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade told journalists in Hong Kong that Fernandes, owner of budget airline AirAsia, made the pledge at the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on Asean in Phnom Penh.
“Mr. President, just to show my faith in your country and my trust in your leadership, I am ready to expand my air coverage, air travel coverage in Manila,” Tugade quoted Fernandes as telling Mr. Duterte.
“Mr. President, if the law will allow, I’m even ready to help put up airports,” Fernandes also said, according to Tugade.
Tugade said Fernandes’ commitment was a “specific, very clear indication of the acceptability of the President’s leadership in so far as his economic program is concerned.”
Tugade announced Fernandes’ commitment after Mr. Duterte’s economic team stepped up their promotion of infrastructure investment opportunities in the country.
Mr. Duterte’s economic managers stressed the administration will fight corruption as part of its economic development plan. “No corruption, it levels the playing field,” Tugade said.
“Gone will be the days when approvals are done after a long period of time, say six months, one year,” he said, vowing to increase transparency and accountability in government projects.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, for his part, said the Duterte administration will depart from the previous administration’s project implementation pace.
“President Duterte is action-oriented. He admits he’s impatient because he wants to get things done quickly,” Pernia said.
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