Fedex Asia Hub departs Subic Bay, Philippines
February 5 - 6, 2009
 
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On the night of February 5th / 6th 2009,  the world’s largest express transportation company, Federal Express (a subsidiary of FedEx Corp  - NYSE:FDX) closed down it’s Subic Bay, Philippine Asian Hub (sorting and trans-shipment facility), after more than 13 years of uninterrupted operation. The last Airbus A310 was deployed at dawn, February 6th.  Fedex has relocated the Company’s new Asia Hub facility to Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport in Quangzhou, southern China.

The single lane “Baily” type bridge, which fords the Pamatawan River one kilometer south of San Antonio and connects to Punduquit fishing village 3 kilometers further south.

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Aerial view, of  Subic Bay (looking NW),  Zambales, Philippines (July 2008).  Upper left, the runway of the  former U.S. Navy Cubi Point Air Station (now the Subic Bay International Airport). Note the new Hanji Shipbuilding yard located on the northern central shore of Subic Bay (top centre). The Subic Bay Golf course and Binictican housing area are bottom left. The Tipo Expressway snakes through the rainforest, bottom right.

 

During the dry season (late November to early May), an annual ritual is practiced by families from the nearby town of San Antonio, Zamables, when they construct temporary bamboo and nipa huts along the river bed of the Pamatawan River and establish lush vegetable gardens in the fertile river sediments (composed predominantly of volcanic ash originating from the Mt. Pinatubo Volcanic eruption in June of 1992).  As well as producing marketable crops of Kangkong (River Spinach – Ipomoea aquatica) and Gabi (Taro, - Calocasia esculenta ), the coolness of the shallow river waters provides a haven from the stifling heat, which characterizes the Philippine dry season. With the onset of the first torrential rains, the entire enterprise is swept away by the surging flood waters and carried out in to the South China Sea, some 2.5 kilometers down stream at fishing village of San Miguel. View looking east from the San Antonio to Pundaquit Bridge towards Mt. Nacday (356m -to the right) in the Zambales Mountains.

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Aerial view of the distinctively shaped former U.S. Navy Cubi Point Air Station (now the Subic Bay International Airport, Olongapo City, Zambales) looking along the 9,003 feet long runway 7 (i.e. 070 degrees) - elevation of 17m above sea level. Fedex’s facilities (aircraft tarmac staging area, sorting center and maitainance buildings and hangers) are located to the right of the runway. The massive air station project was originally conceived by U.S. Admiral Arthur W. Radford, Chief of Naval Operations,  with construction beginning in 1951 by Navy Seabees (Naval Engineer Units, MCB -3 and MCB – 5). The US$100 million undertaking was commissioned five years later (approximately 20 million man-hours) on July 25th 1956. The original site was occupied by the fishing town of Banicain, whose population had to be relocated to the nearby city of Olongapo (New Banicain). Approximately half of adjacent Cubi Point Mountain was excavated and used as fill in extending ground into the Bay to accommodate the air station complex (equivalent to construction of the Panama Canal).  Control of the then largest U.S. Naval facility outside the USA was formerly signed over to the Philippine Government on November 24th 1992, along with more than US$6 billion in infrastructure. Note the new Subic Bay International Container Port at left- completed in 2008. 

 

 

During the dry season (late November to early May), an annual ritual is practiced by families from the nearby town of San Antonio, Zamables, when they construct temporary bamboo and nipa huts along the river bed of the Pamatawan River and establish lush vegetable gardens in the fertile river sediments (composed predominantly of volcanic ash originating from the Mt. Pinatubo Volcanic eruption in June of 1992).  As well as producing marketable crops of Kangkong (River Spinach - Ipomoea aquatica) and Gabi (Taro -  Calocasia esculenta), the coolness of the shallow river waters provides a haven from the stifling heat, which characterizes the Philippine dry season. With the onset of the first torrential rains, the entire enterprise is swept away by the surging flood waters and carried out in to the South China Sea, some 2.5 kilometers down stream at fishing village of San Miguel. View looking east from the San Antonio to Pundaquit Bridge towards Mt. Nacday (356m -to the right) in the Zambales Mountains.

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A ground controller safely guides the arrival of a MD11 plane at Fedex’s Subic Bay Asia Hub facility,  the last night of Philippine operations. February 5th /6th 2009.
 

 

Caption During the dry season (late November to early May), an annual ritual is practiced by families from the nearby town of San Antonio, Zambales, when they construct temporary bamboo and nipa huts along the river bed of the Pamatawan River and establish lush vegetable gardens in the fertile river sediments (composed predominantly of volcanic ash originating from the Mt. Pinatubo Volcanic eruption in June of 1992).  As well as producing marketable crops of Kangkong (River Spinach - Ipomoea aquatica) and Gabi (Taro - Calocasia esculenta), the coolness of the shallow river waters provides a haven from the stifling heat, which characterizes the Philippine dry season. With the onset of the first torrential rains, the entire enterprise is swept away by the surging flood waters and carried out in to the South China Sea, some 2.5 kilometers down stream at fishing village of San Miguel. View looking east from the San Antonio to Pundaquit Bridge towards Mt. Nacday (356m - to the right) in the Zambales Mountains.

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A panoramic view taken from the Subic Bay International Airport control tower, showing the sweep of tarmac activity on the final night of Fedex Asia Hub’s  Philippine operations. Note, arrival of an Airbus A310 on the extreme right (slightly blured due to photographic time exposure).
 

A farmer tends his Gabi (Taro - Calocasia esculenta) vegetable garden in the

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A Fedex Airbus A310 undergoing inspection upon arrival at the Subic Bay facility - one of 13 aircraft deployed from the Company’s Subic Bay Hub on the final night of Philippine operations, February 5th / 6th 2009.
 

Children net for fresh water snail (“susu”) in the Pamatawan River , San Antonio, Zambales, Philippines.

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Fedex pilots of an Airbus A310  - among the last crews to operate out of the Subic Bay Hub.  February 5th / 6th 2009.
 

Relaxing in the cool waters of the Pamatawan River, San Antonio, Zambales, Philippines.

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A crew member monitors emails in the pilot’s operations room at the Fedex Subic Bay Asaia Hub facility, the last night of the Hub’s Philippine operations. February 5th / 6th 2009.

Late afternoon view of the temporary dry season vegetable gardens and shelters along the Pamatawan River, looking west from the San Antonio to Pundaquit Bridge. The fishing village of San Miguel is located approximately 2.5 kilometers down stream, where the river empties into the South China Sea.

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A MD11(left) and an Airbus A310 (right) undergo cargo loading at the Fedex Subic Bay Asia Hub on the final night of Philippine operations.  February 5th / 6th 2009.

With the arrival of the wet season in July, the Pamatawan River floods and sweeps away the dry season's temporary vegetable gardens and recreational huts.

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Fedex’s Subic Bay Chief pilot, Joel Edmondson, oversees the final night of operations. Local media document the closure of what was the Subic Bay Freeport Zone’s largest employer, with over 800 workers, plus more than 1,000 subcontract support service personnel

 

Relaxing in the cool waters of the Pamatawan River, San Antonio, Zambales, Philippines.

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Senior Fedex department managers conduct the final night’s operations brief. Fedex’s Subic Bay Chief Pilot and long time resident, Joel Edmondson voiced a heartfelt and enthusiastic thanks to all Fedex Filipino employees for the outstanding professionalism, dedication and job loyalty demonstrated throughout the Hub’s 13 year history of operations.

Relaxing in the cool waters of the Pamatawan River, San Antonio, Zambales, Philippines.

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Ding Adeo Silang monitors flights at the  Ramp Tower Control Office, Fedex Subic Bay Asia Hub, February 5th / 6th 2009.

Relaxing in the cool waters of the Pamatawan River, San Antonio, Zambales, Philippines.

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Maricris Baeulpo tracking aircraft arrival and departure information at the Fedex Subic Bay Asia Hub’s Ramp Tower Control Office. February 5th / 6th 2009.

Relaxing in the cool waters of the Pamatawan River, San Antonio, Zambales, Philippines.

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Fedex Subic Bay Asia Hub’s sorting center, Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Zambales, Philippines. February 5th / 6th 2009.

Relaxing in the cool waters of the Pamatawan River, San Antonio, Zambales, Philippines.

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Flawless and “on-time” sorting, has been the hall mark of quality displayed by hundreds of consciencious Fedex Filipino workers  - to the very end.  Thousands of packages successfully passed through Fedex’s Subic Bay Asia Hub facility, six nights a week for over 13 years.  Final night of operations, February 5th /6th 2009.
 

Relaxing in the cool waters of the Pamatawan River, San Antonio, Zambales, Philippines.

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A MD11 (forground) and Airbus A310. A cloud shrouded moon lent poignancy to the final night of operations at  the Fedex Subic Bay Asia Hub facility. February 5th /6th 2009.
 

Relaxing in the cool waters of the Pamatawan River, San Antonio, Zambales, Philippines.

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Loading a MD11 plane, with the Subic Bay Internalional Airport control tower in the background. The last night of Fedex Asia Hub’s Philippine operations. February 5th / 6th 2009.
 

Relaxing in the cool waters of the Pamatawan River, San Antonio, Zambales, Philippines.

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A mix of MD11 and Airbus A310 aircraft undergo unloading and loading at the Subic Bay International Airport, Zambales, Philippines. The last night of Fedex Asia Hub’s Philippine operations. February 5th /6th 2009.
 

Relaxing in the cool waters of the Pamatawan River, San Antonio, Zambales, Philippines.

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A Cessna “Caravan” feeder plane (transports cargo to and from Philippine domestic collection and distribution points) takes on it’s final load of cargo destined for Manila, with the US Navy built airport control tower in the background.
 

Relaxing in the cool waters of the Pamatawan River, San Antonio, Zambales, Philippines.

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Dawn illuminates the departure of last Fedex Cessna “Caravan” feeder plane – the second to final flight out of the Fedex Subic Bay Asia Hub facility.  February 6th 2009.
 

Relaxing in the cool waters of the Pamatawan River, San Antonio, Zambales, Philippines.

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Traffic air controllers at the Subic Bay International Airport, monitor incoming and outgoing flights on the final night of Fedex Asia Hub’s Philippine  operations. February 5th / 6th 2009.

Relaxing in the cool waters of the Pamatawan River, San Antonio, Zambales, Philippines.

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The last scheduled Airbus A310 to depart for Jakarta, Indonesia via Cebu (Philippines) from the Fedex Subic Bay Asia Hub facility. February 5th / 6th 2009.

Relaxing in the cool waters of the Pamatawan River, San Antonio, Zambales, Philippines.

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The final container loaded onto an Airbus A310, the last plane deployed from the Fedex Subic Bay Hub facilty on the morning of February 6th 2009.  Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Zambales, Philippines.

Relaxing in the cool waters of the Pamatawan River, San Antonio, Zambales, Philippines.

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Filipino-American, Captain Ress Agra (left) and first Officer Mark Rackley were the designated crew to fligh the last Airbus A310 out of the Fedex Subic Bay Asia Hub facility – departing a little after sunrise on February 6th 2009. Capatin Agra was among the pilots to landed aircraft on the first day of Fedex’s Asia Hub operations in Subic Bay in 1996. Some 49 pilots (known as the “49’er”) and their family’s made Subic Bay home at the peak of operations.

Relaxing in the cool waters of the Pamatawan River, San Antonio, Zambales, Philippines.

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Fedex Subic Bay Asia Hub’s Chief Pilot, Joel Edmondson, and the last Airbus A310 flight scheduled for departure from the Subic Bay International Airport, Zambales, Philippines.

Relaxing in the cool waters of the Pamatawan River, San Antonio, Zambales, Philippines.

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The last Fedex Airbus A310 loaded and ready to depart the Subic Bay Asia Hub, prior to final operation closure of the facility. Dawn, february 6th 2009.

Relaxing in the cool waters of the Pamatawan River, San Antonio, Zambales, Philippines.

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The central figure (sharp focus) in the image is Philippine Senator Richard James Gordon. He was the first appointed Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman (and former Mayor of the City of Olongapo, Zambales - his Grandfather came to the Philippines with the American Army during the Spanish-American War around 1900), following the US Navy pull out on November 24th 1992. Gordon was instrumental in transforming the former military facility into the Philippine’s premier Freeport Zone, guiding his highly inspired volunteer transition team (particularly the late lawyer, Ferdie Aristorenas) in negotiating the successful agreement between Fedex and SBMA. Senator Gordon personally felt that he should be present for the departure of the last Fedex flight and lend moral support to the workers who have lost their jobs as a result of the Hub's relocation to China.  The people gathered around him are Fedex employees, who were permitted onto the tarmac to see off the final flight. The American gentleman, second to the Senator's left is Joel Edmondson , Fedex Chief pilot at the Subic Bay Hub. Joel was a senior Naval Officer at the time of US Naval Air Station / Base handover and has since made Subic Bay his home.

Relaxing in the cool waters of the Pamatawan River, San Antonio, Zambales, Philippines.

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Hundreds of employees gathered on the tarmac to express a mixture of saddness and a final moment of excitement at witnessing the successful take off of the last Airbus A310 deployed from the Fedex Subic Bay Asia Hub. Dawn, February 6th 2009.

Relaxing in the cool waters of the Pamatawan River, San Antonio, Zambales, Philippines.

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Hundreds of employees gathered on the tarmac to express a mixture of saddness and a final moment of excitement at witnessing the successful take off of the last Airbus A310 deployed from the Fedex Subic Bay Asia Hub.  Dawn, February 6th 2009.

Relaxing in the cool waters of the Pamatawan River, San Antonio, Zambales, Philippines.

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Former Fedex employees mill about a now empty and quiet airport tarmac, following the deployment of the last Fedex Airbus A310 plane from the Subic Bay Freeport Zone facility. Dawn, February 6th 2009.

Relaxing in the cool waters of the Pamatawan River, San Antonio, Zambales, Philippines.

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A forlorn site. Idle air freight container carrying dollies parked on the tarmac in front of the now inactive sorting facility - following the departure of the last Airbus A310 aircraft from what is now the former Fedex Subic Bay Asia Hub facility. Dawn, February 6th 2009
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