Flag carrier Philippine Airlines is betting big on Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia), signaling its belief that Naia—which suffers from worsening congestion—would remain the country’s primary gateway for a long time, despite several private-sector offers for its replacement.
PAL president Jamie Bautista said yesterday that PAL would revive a 2015 proposal to build a P20-billion annex building to Naia’s Terminal 2, where PAL has been operating exclusively since 1999.
Bautista said the Naia Terminal 2 annex would cut passenger congestion, given that Naia’s four terminals already cater to about 42 million passengers yearly, 40 percent more than the design capacity.
Amid private sector offers to replace Naia, such as San Miguel Corp.’s proposal to build a new international airport in Bulacan or the Belle-Solar Group’s project in Sangley Point, Cavite, Bautista said PAL was not worried about investing more in Naia.
“I think Naia will remain and operate for the next many years,” Baustista told reporters at the sidelines of a forum organized by the Management Association of the Philippines.
Calling Naia “the heart of our domestic and international network,” Bautista said PAL was seeking a 20-year lease deal with Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. for a 16-hectare adjacent property that would serve as the site for the Terminal 2 Annex building.
The property was the site of Philippine Village Hotel and the former Nayong Pilipino complex.
Bautista said the proposed Terminal 2 annex building could accommodate an additional 12 million to 15 million passengers per year. It would have airbridges capable of serving 12 to 17 wide-bodied and single aisle jets. The annex terminal would span about 89,000 square meters.
PAL wants to begin work on the new terminal next year, with the start of operations seen by 2021. The flag carrier needs the added space to accommodate its growing fleet of aircraft. PAL is targeting to have 96 planes by 2021, up from 87 aircraft today.
Bautista said PAL was prepared to finance the construction of the annex terminal by itself or with potential partners.
“The main infrastructure constraint is Naia, the prime gateway to the Philippines. Naia experienced only an 8-percent growth in passengers last year, and it would be difficult to sustain this rate in the coming years,” Bautista said.
Manuel Antonio Tamayo, DOTr undersecretary for aviation, told reporters during the same forum that the government remained “open” to PAL’s offer.
The broader direction on when a new airport should be pursued remained “uncertain” at this stage.
“Everything is being studied. Right now it’s still the dual airport and on the long term, we are open to a new gateway,” Tamayo said, referring to both Naia and Pampanga’s Clark International Airport, which the DOTr was expanding. Tamayo said steps were also being taken to address runway congestion at Naia.
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