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27 February 2010

Philippines: Four more airlines seen starting operations at capital’s airport

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The Manila International Airport Authority (Miaa) is confident that four new international carriers will start flying out of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) Terminal 3 by the end of the year, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.

According to Miaa Assistant General Manager Tirso G. Serrano, Terminal 3 is currently being used at half capacity and it will be necessary to utilize more of the facility to address the continuing growth in the number of people using Manila’s airports.

About 24.5 million people used Manila’s four airports in 2009. This is an increase of about 11 percent over the 22 million people the previous year. Manila’s airport system is comprised of the three Naia terminals and the Manila Domestic Passenger terminal.

Naia 3 was opened in July 2008. Last year, about 7.5 million people used it—just half of the airport’s capacity of 13 million people a year.

At that time, only three carriers—Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines (PAL) Express and its sister company Air Philippines—started operations at the new terminal.

Also, work still needs to be done in parts of Naia 3.

“Completion works are being stepped up. It should be ready to accommodate new international airlines,” Serrano said in a recent interview. “Within the year, we are confident that we can get two to four international airlines in Naia 3.”

This year, Serrano said, the number of passengers passing through Manila’s four airports would continue to grow at a double-digit rate, due to the tourism-driven increase in domestic air travel.

With the opening of Naia 3, the airport authority succeeded in decongesting Manila’s airport system, which used to serve 20 million passengers a year—well above its capacity of 18 million passengers a year at the time.

But legal issues over Naia 3’s ownership are still unresolved.

A build-operate-transfer contract for the terminal was granted to Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc. (Piatco) and German partner Fraport AG. But the Supreme Court later nullified the contract because of anomalies.

The government then took over the terminal from the original contractor in exchange for an initial compensation of P3 billion, which the government paid Piatco in 2006.

Piatco has sued the government before international arbitration courts for illegally scrapping the contract.


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