SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — Intending to capitalize on Subic’s health safety record as an international gateway, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has developed an end-to-end platform that will deliver corporate jet maintenance service despite the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said the “Corporate Jet Maintenance Bubble” (CJMB) will be located at the Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA), which also houses a crew-change hub for mariners that is being operated by the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
“The corporate jet maintenance bubble works with roughly the same concept—it will be a complete process that precludes any third-party engagement because the accommodations, amenities and services are all in one place, and everything stays isolated,” Eisma explained.
She said the SBMA recognized the financial pressure faced by the aviation industry and had developed the CJMB to provide a safe, seamless, and efficient mechanism that will enable business jet operators in the Asia-Pacific region to meet their maintenance needs here in the Philippines despite the COVID-19 crisis.
Eisma said the CJMB was developed in accordance with Resolution No. 84 of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), which authorized the SBMA to set up a corporate jet flight maintenance and crew layover hub at the Subic Freeport under a strict “bubble” concept, as recommended by the DOTr and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).
“With this project, we can also generate income for the Subic airport and once more push its potential as a regional aviation hub,” Eisma added.
Under the bubble concept, business jets may come into Subic for maintenance work without the limiting restrictions currently being implemented at other local airports.
The end-to-end process was carefully tailored to ensure a level of safety that would meet existing guidelines from regulatory agencies like CAAP, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), International Air Transport Association (IATA), as well as the World Health Organization (WHO), Department of Health (DOH), and the IATF.
Significantly, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) announced the lifting of travel restrictions on the 36 countries with reported cases of the new COVID-19 variants starting Feb. 1, following a directive from the IATF.
Eisma said the SBMA “will strive to continuously work with the IATF, BI, DOTr and other stakeholders to ensure transparency and commitment to safety while facilitating the safe positioning of flights and their respective crew to and from Subic.”
The SBMA had approved an aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility at the Subic airport as early as August 2019, giving services provider Aviation Concepts Technical Services Inc. (ACTSI) its go-ahead for the full development of the local airport as a 24/7 hub for business aviation.
The SBMA had since marketed SBIA for its strategic location, it being only 1.5 hours away from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan and just 3 hours away from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
The SBMA has also stressed the wealth of manpower talent and cost-effectiveness as some of the major advantages of doing business in Subic over other areas.