FedEx has established its new Asia-Pacific cargo hub with the opening of the revamped Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA) in the Philippines.

FedEx's intra-Asia network will connect nine regional cities, including Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei and Tokyo. Its overnight express freight service will operate five Airbus A310 freighters from SBIA.

Initial services commenced on 1 May with the relocation of FedEx's Manila operation to SBIA and the launch of a new transpacific daily flight from Japan's Kansai Airport to Oakland, California, via the Philippines. Local operator, Airfreight 2100, will connect FedEx's SBIA hub with Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport, using a Cessna 208.

The US company selected Subic as a site for its new Asian hub in 1993, after evaluating several different locations. The former Cubi Point US Naval Air Station was chosen for its geographical location, existing infrastructure and political support from the Philippine Government, says FedEx chief executive Frederick Smith.

SBIA was reopened on 30 April after seven months of redevelopment work, costing nearly $42 million. It was vacated and stripped of radar and navigational landing aids by the US Navy in November 1992, with the closure of its Subic Bay naval base.

Newly installed equipment at SBIA includes a Westinghouse ASR-9 air-surveillance radar, Alcatel Series 400 digital instrument-landing system (ILS) and Doppler very-high-frequency omni-direction range system (DVOR). A differential global positioning system (DGPS) is also being added.

SBIA's 2,750m (9,000ft) long runway, taxiways and aprons have been relaid and strengthened. Future developments include, a passenger terminal, to be completed by late 1996 and expanded apron parking.

FedEx is converting and expanding two maintenance hangars at SBIA to handle express freight and general cargo. It has a six-month option on the airport's two remaining unused hangars. The only other operator is domestic carrier Star Asia, flying a de Havilland Canada Dash 7 turboprop between SBIA and Manila.

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines has designated SBIA as an alternate airport to Manila and is considering launching a scheduled service. Makung Airlines has proposed operating a service between Subic and Taiwan.

Korean Airlines (KAL) sent an Airbus A300-600F for the airport's reopening. "KAL demonstrated intent by sending an aircraft, they may well be our second international user," says SBIA director Andres Dacayanan.

Source: Flight International