MANILA – Philippine Airlines has offered to build an extension terminal for the Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s Centennial Terminal, which the government had committed to improve.
Government welcomed the move on Wednesday, but said “progress of any discussion in this regard is remote at this time because the area being considered is subject of a long standing legal case.” The location referred to is the site of the now-defunct Philippine Village Hotel, the former Nayong Pilipino complex and a property owned by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
The PAL offer was revealed by the flag carrier’s president Jaime J. Bautista, who addressed the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP).
PAL wants to build a P20-billion (US$400-million) passenger terminal beside its current hub at the NAIA Centennial Terminal 2 to expand capacity and dramatically improve passenger convenience.
In his MAP presentation, PAL’s Bautista showed an architect’s perspective of PAL’s proposed annex building. He said the terminal would be designed to handle 12 to 15 million passengers per year and would have aerobridges capable of serving 12 to 17 wide-bodied and single aisle jets.
Bautista said NAIA Terminal 2 which PAL has been using exclusively since 1999, has far exceeded its maximum capacity as it was originally built as a domestic airport during the Ramos administration. Constructing a new, 89,000 square-meter air terminal (equivalent to 200 basketball courts) north of NAIA 2 would help decongest the airport and provide PAL passengers much-deserved space, amenities and modern conveniences.
MIAA: Move is welcome, but…
The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), in a statement later on Wednesday, said: “Any offer of partnership to improve terminal 2 is a welcome move. We are happy that Philippine Airlines’ offer is aligned to the government’s own plan to improve the said terminal.”
MIAA added, though: “While this option can be explored, progress of any discussion in this regard is remote at this time because the area being considered is subject of a long standing legal case. ”
Still, the agency assured PAL “that we are always open to initiatives that will redound to the best interest of Terminal 2 users.”
The proposed annex building will rise on a 16-hectare area adjacent to NAIA 2, comprising of the now-defunct Philippine Village Hotel, the former Nayong Pilipino complex and a property owned by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). Aside from the passenger terminal, the complex will include multi-level parking for 1,000 vehicles, a new cargo terminal and ground service facilities.
Bautista said PAL – which currently operates at NAIA 1, NAIA 2, NAIA 3 for some of its domestic flights is keen on the annex building project to consolidate its operations, and provide adequate room for its growing fleet of jets and international and domestic passengers. From its current fleet of 87 wide-bodied and single aisle jets, PAL expects its aircraft count to reach 96 by 2021.
But for PAL’s vision to succeed, Bautista stressed that it needs government’s full support, especially in securing crucial land leases from agencies like the Manila International Airport Autrhority (MIAA) and PAGCOR. “We also need government to continuously invest in building, developing, enhancing and upgrading airport infrstructure, not just for NAIA but all throughout the country, as PAL and other airlines out up more flights and open new routes in our race for a thriving economic future,” he said.
Bautista added that PAL has been doing its share to help decongest NAIA while stimulating air travel to the Philippines. “We’re already building up a new network of local and regional flights from Clark, Cebu, Puerto Princesa, Davao, Caticlan and Kalibo,” he said, adding that PAL continues to invest in the latest technology to speed up passenger processing and aircraft turnaround times.