MANILA, Philippines – Starting April, the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) will be reassigning flights to help alleviate the congestion plaguing the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
Under MIAA’s Schedule and Terminal Assignment Rationalization (STAR) program, international flights will be reassigned to Terminals 1 and 3, which offer wider food, retail, and duty-free shopping options.
NAIA Terminal 2, previously used exclusively by Philippine Airlines (PAL), will handle only domestic flights.
“[Terminal 2] was really designed as a domestic terminal in the late ’90s. It was just converted into an international and domestic operation terminal by Philippine Airlines when they moved in,” MIAA Senior Assistant General Manager Bryan Co told DZBB’s Saksi sa Dobol B in a mix of Filipino and English.
Here’s how flights from various airlines will be adjusted under the STAR program.
PAL will move all its international flights to Terminal 1. Beginning April 16, the flag carrier will relocate its flights to and from Singapore, Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, and Phnom Penh to Terminal 1. By June 16, all international flights of PAL would have moved to Terminal 1.
PAL Express – its regional brand – will continue operating local flights from Terminal 2.
For connecting flights from domestic to international destinations, PAL gave assurances that transportation between terminals will be provided.
“There will be some adjustments sapagkat may mga (because there are) connecting flights from domestic to international and vice versa. But our flying public can be assured na meron po tayong transport system (that we have a transport system), airside and land transfers,” PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said in the DZBB interview.
Starting July 1, AirAsia Philippines' domestic operations will move to Terminal 2, to decongest the small and often overcrowded Terminal 4. Currently, AirAsia’s local flights pass through Terminal 4 while its international flights use Terminal 3.
“Hinihiling namin na mailipat ang aming mga international sa Terminal 1 kasi po operational-wise, medyo magkalayo ang Terminal 3 at Terminal 2. So kung meron po kaming mga international guest na connecting papunta sa domestic, malayo po siya,” said AirAsia spokesperson Steve Dailisan in an interview on DZBB’s One on One: Walang Personalan.
(We’re requesting for our international flights to be moved to Terminal 1 because operations-wise, Terminal 3 and Terminal 2 are quite far apart. If we have international guests connecting to domestic flights, it’s quite a far distance to travel.)
Cebu Pacific’s domestic network will remain in Terminal 3. Its turboprop aircrafts – operating under the regional brand Cebgo – will also continue to operate in Terminal 4.
Other domestic airlines will also be transferring terminals under the STAR program starting July 1 onwards. Budget airline Royal Air Philippines will be moving its domestic flights from Terminal 4 to Terminal 2.
Sunlight Air will also be moving all its flights from the General Aviation Area – which handles aircrafts for chartered flights – to Terminal 4.
Co added that the operations of some foreign airlines will be moved to Terminal 3 to make space for PAL’s international flights. Initial movement of foreign airlines from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3 will begin on April 16. Among the airlines affected are Jetstar Asia, Jetstar Japan, Scoot, China Southern Airlines, and Starlux Airlines.
Jeju Air, Ethiopian Airlines, Gulf Air, and Thai Airways will also move to Terminal 3 starting June 1.
Decongesting terminals and immigration
These changes come on top of terminal reassignments for PAL and AirAsia that began ahead of the holiday season in December 2022.
“With this move, we expect a significant increase in Terminal 2’s capacity from 7.5 million to 10 million passengers a year, 20% to 25% more than its current rate," said MIAA General Manager Cesar Chiong.
Co also said the reassignments would address the surge in domestic tourism, given that domestic traffic is already at more than 110% of pre-pandemic levels.
Asked whether Terminal 1 might become congested now that it has to accommodate more international flights, Co said the terminal is actually “a bit underutilized” since it has undergone improvements.
“If you’ve been to Terminal 1, it’s very different from the Terminal 1 that we know from the past dahil maganda na po ‘yung aircon at dumami na po ‘yung mga amenities natin (because the air-conditioning system is good now and the amenities have increased),” he said.
Co emphasized that the reassignment of flights would also cut the long immigration process, which has already caused passengers to miss their flights.
“‘Pag napansin 'nyo when you arrive – especially, let’s say po, from international flights, like galing sa US, sa umaga – punong-puno po ‘yung pila natin doon sa immigration, hanggang sa paakyat ng hagdanan because those areas were never meant to have any immigration or Customs area dahil talaga pong ang design niya, tuloy-tuloy lang po ang daloy ng pasahero, katulad ng normal na domestic terminal,” Co said.
(If you’ll notice when you arrive – especially, let’s say, from international flights, like from the US in the morning – the immigration area is extremely crowded, all the way up to the stairs because those areas were never meant to have any immigration or Customs areas. The terminal was designed for continuous passenger flow, just like in a normal domestic terminal.)
Rather than having Customs, immigration, and quarantine operations spread out among three terminals, they would now only be focusing on Terminal 1 and Terminal 3. Co said around 100 immigration officers would be redeployed from Terminal 2 to the other two international terminals.
“Therefore, ‘yung mga resources like ‘yung mga immigration officers natin, imbes na nakakalat sila sa tatlong terminal, makapag-focus tayo sa dalawang terminal upang ma-improve po natin ‘yung pag-ma-man ng ating counters (our resources, such as immigration officers, won’t be scattered among three terminals. Instead, they’ll be focused on two terminals to improve the manning of our counters).” – Rappler.com
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