LAST year 25 million passengers were registered at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, just 5 million short of the rated capacity of the three terminals of 30 million passengers.
The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) now says, however, that there is no need for all international air carriers to transfer to the controversial Terminal 3 (T3), which the government earlier said must host all the international airlines.
Because of the continuing increase in passenger volume, the three passenger terminals have almost reached full capacity. “So we’re now 25 million, and we have growth space of 5 million, but since T3 is only 50-percent operational, we’ve almost reached the maximum capacity. My point is that even if we open T3 to the fullest, we will not be able to transfer all air carriers at T1 to T3, so T1 will continue to operate,” explained MIAA general manager Alfonso Cusi.
He spoke to journalists at the opening of the four-day 28th Asean International Airports Association (AAA) meeting at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza attended by 20 foreign delegates.
On the other hand, he said that about three international carriers have expressed their intention to transfer to T3, while some are still waiting for the MIAA to settle all legal and other issues before deciding whether to spend millions to construct new facilities for their respective airlines at the new terminal.
“Let’s not be too concerned with what airlines are going to transfer. What is important is that we were able to disperse them so that the passenger volume at T1 was greatly reduced,” he added.
Cusi said having T3 “fully operational” would mean having an extensive parking area, a mall area, and a public area capable of holding a great number of visitors, which are now all absent because of certain unfulfilled work contracts that are under arbitration, negotiation or court hearings.
The MIAA is thus not forcing the issue of having all the 30 company-members on the Airline Operators Council to relocate to T3. “In other words, the airlines would make the decision that is best suited for them. That is our view.”
Cusi said the current trend is for airline companies to engage in low-cost operations because of the high cost of fuel and the drop in passengers as a result of the global financial crisis and this has led the Miaa to plan facilities for such operations.
“We have to anticipate growth, but also be in harmony with the trend, the changing times and this trend is the growth of low-cost operations,” said Cusi.
However, the planned low-cost terminal, which would have no airbridges and no VIP lounges, has been deferred until the next administration, because the authority believes the time is not yet ripe and it must conserve its resources.
The would-be users of this terminal would have been Cebu Pacific, Tiger Air of Singapore and Asian Express.