Aug. 31 airline assignments at Naia won’t materialize

The new airline assignments at four terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport which were supposed to begin on Aug. 31 will not happen, according to the Manila International Airport Authority. 

“Contrary to what is now circulating in social media, the Aug. 31, 2018 terminal transfer of airlines will not proceed as originally envisioned. While talks with some airline operators have started and with some signifying their intent to transfer, options that have been discussed are exploratory in nature,” the MIAA said in a statement released to members of the media on Monday.

Earlier reports showed the government is implementing the rationalization plan of airport services to decongest terminals and improve passenger convenience beginning Aug. 31.

It showed that only five out of the more than 20 airlines will be left serving Terminal 1 of Naia and these are Thai Airways, Saudia Airlines, Japan Airlines, Etihad Airlines and legacy carrier Philippine Airlines.

The reports also showed that other foreign airlines operating at the Naia Terminal 1 that will be transferred to Naia Terminal 3 include China Southern, China Airlines, China Eastern, Xiamen Air, Oman Air, Eva Air, Kuwait Air, Jetstar, Gulf Air, Korean Airlines, Asiana Airlines, Qantas Air, Malaysian Airlines, Qatar Air, Royal Brunei, Tiger Air, Jeju Air, Air Nugini and Air China.

Terminal 2, on the other hand, will be used only for PAL and Cebu Pacific Air domestic flights operations while Terminal 4 will handle other domestic flights service, according to earlier reports.

Naia Terminal 2 will be exclusively utilized for domestic flights and Terminal 3 for international flights based on the rationalization plan.

But MIAA, in its statement dated July 30, said discussions gave rise to unforeseen operational constraints that require a longer time to resolve.  

“In this regard, the MIAA in its letter dated June 5, 2018, formalized to the Committee Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Transportation, its request to defer the implementation of the Terminal Rationalization Program. Therefore, no transfer of airlines will occur until further notice,” the authority stated.

“This is to clarify too that the transfer of certain Philippine Airlines flights to Naia Terminal 1 is necessary to prepare Naia Terminal 2 for its rehabilitation which is expected to commence before year-end. We assure the air riding public that passenger safety,  comfort and convenience are always our priority,” it added. 

Former House of Representatives speaker Pantaleon Alvarez was one of the lawmakers pushing to rationalize domestic and international flights as well as the use of passenger terminals at the Naia. 

But a day after the third State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Duterte on July 23, a House “coup” transpired which resulted in the ouster of Alvarez. 

Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is the new speaker of the Lower Chamber. 

MIAA records showed that Terminal 1 was completed in 1981 to accommodate the country’s growing international passenger traffic levels during the 1970s. 

The 16-gate facility with 78 check-in counters and 24 immigration stations was designed by Leandro Locsin, a National Artist of the Philippines for Architecture.

Terminal 2 began operations in 1999. 

Originally envisioned as a domestic hub, the facility now houses both the international and domestic operations of the country’s flag carrier, Philippine Airlines.

While improvements raised Terminal 1’s design capacity to six million, a peak level of 7.7 million passengers was reached in 1997, causing an overflow of passengers that year. Terminal 3 was the answer to this growing traffic. 

Naia 3 can handle 13 million international passengers annually. 

The center of the building contains the head house where passenger processing is centralized. 

A total 20 boarding gates and 140 Check-In-Counters can accommodate 4,000 peak hour one-way passengers.

Terminal 3 officially opened to selected domestic flights from July 2008 (initially Cebu Pacific only, then PAL’s subsidiaries Air Philippines and PAL Express), with Cebu Pacific international flights using it from August 2008. 

Terminal 4, named as Manila Domestic Passenger Terminal, and still known as the Old Domestic Terminal, is the oldest of the four existing terminals. The facility hosts the operations of local carriers such as Air SWIFT, Cebgo, Philippine Air Asia and Skyjet.

What are the “unforeseen operational constraints”?

MIAA stated that using Naia T2 exclusively for domestic flights will necessarily increase passenger traffic from an average of 26,000  to 60,000 per day. 

This traffic in addition to all pending construction in Terminal 2 such as the expansion of its lobby, expansion of equipment parking at the Northwing and Southwing areas, the construction of additional bus gates and the canopy by the bridge will render it difficult to conveniently accommodate such volume of passengers. 

Additionally, the forthcoming and much-needed rehabilitation of Terminal 2 will further limit the capacity of the Terminal to handle the exponential increase in passenger traffic if the (Rationalization) Program will be implemented prior all major construction works for rehabilitation.

Topics: Ninoy Aquino International Airport , Manila International Airport Authority , Thai Airways , Saudia Airlines , Japan Airlines , Etihad Airlines , Philippine Airlines
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