Ninoy Aquino International Airport

The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Filipino: Paliparang Pandaigdig ng Ninoy Aquino) or NAIA is the airport serving the general area of Manila and its surrounding metropolitan area. Located along the border between Pasay City and Parañaque City, about seven kilometers south of Manila proper, and southwest of Makati City, NAIA is the main international gateway for travelers to the Philippines and is the hub for all Philippine airlines. It is managed by the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), a branch of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

Officially, NAIA is the only airport serving the Manila area. However, in practice, both NAIA and Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in Angeles City, Pampanga serve the Manila area, with DMIA catering mostly to low-cost carriers that avail of the lower landing fees than those in NAIA. In the long term, DMIA is set to replace NAIA as the primary airport of the Philippines.

In 2006, the airport handled 17.7 million passengers. This showed an 8.9% growth in passenger numbers from the 2005 figures of 16,193,611 and placed the airport as the 72nd busiest airport worldwide in terms of passenger traffic.

In 2007, the airport handled 21,261,133 passengers. This was a 20.4% growth in passenger numbers compared to 2006, placing the airport 59th worldwide in terms of passenger traffic.


The original airport that served Manila, the Manila International Air Terminal, was opened in July 1937 at Nielson Field, the runways of which now form Ayala Avenue and Paseo de Roxas in Makati City. In 1948, following Philippine independence, the airport was moved to its current site adjacent to the Villamor Airbase, which was then called Nichols Field. The original structure was built on what is now the site of the present-day Terminal 2. In 1954 the airport's international runway and associated taxiway were built, and in 1961, the construction of a control tower and a terminal building for the use of international passengers was completed.

In 1972, a fire caused substantial damage to the original terminal building, and a slightly smaller terminal was rebuilt in it's place the following year. This second terminal would become the country's international terminal until 1981, when a new, higher-capacity terminal, known today as Terminal 1, was built to replace it. The old international terminal would serve as Manila's Domestic Airport until another fire damaged it in May 1985. The present Terminal 1, originally named Manila International Airport, was given its present name on August 17, 1987, by virtue of Republic Act No. 6639, with the intention of honoring Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr., who was assassinated at the airport after returning to the Philippines from his self-imposed exile in the United States on August 21, 1983.

Plans for a new terminal were conceived in 1989, when the Department of Transportation and Communications commissioned Aéroports de Paris to do a feasibility study to expand capacity. The recommendation was to build two new terminals, and in 1998, Terminals 2 and 3 were completed. Terminal 2 was nicknamed the "Centennial Terminal" as its completion coincided with the 100th anniversary of Philippine independence from Spain. In 1997, the government approved for the construction of Terminal 3, which was originally scheduled to be completed in 2002. After many delays caused by several technical and legal issues, the terminal became fully operational in mid-2008. Moreover, the government also aims to return services from many of the airlines which cancelled services to Manila as a result of the problems of the current Terminal 1.


Terminal 1

The development of the Manila International Airport was, finally approved through the promulgation of Executive Order No. 381, which authorized the airport's development. In 1973, a feasibility study/airport master plan was done by Airways Engineering Corporation through a US$29.6 million loan from the Asian Development Bank. The Detailed Engineering Design of the New Manila International Airport Development Project was done by Renardet-Sauti/Transplan/F.F. Cruz Consultant while the terminal's Detailed Architectural Design was prepared by Leandro Locsin's L.V. Locsin and Associates.

In 1974, the detailed designs were adopted by the Philippine Government and was subsequently approved by the Asian Development Bank on September 18, 1975. Actual work on the terminal began during the second quarter of 1978.

The terminal was completed in 1981 and had a size of 67,000 square meters with a design capacity of 4.5 million passengers per year. It currently serves all non-Philippine Airlines and non-Cebu Pacific international flights. In 1989, a Master Plan Review recommended the construction of two new terminals (NAIA 2 and NAIA 3), as well as many other facility improvements.

The terminal reached capacity in 1991, when it registered a total passenger volume of 4.53 million. Since 1991, the terminal has been over capacity and has been recording an annual average growth rate of 11%. It has 18 airbridges and services 27 airlines (as of July 2006). Interestingly enough, the building does not have a Gate 8 and a Gate 13. Compared to international terminals in other Asian countries, Terminal 1 consistently ranks at the bottom, with limited and outdated facilities, poor passenger comfort, and the facility long ago exceeded its design capacity.

The DOTC announced that after everything will be fixed regarding the opening of the new Terminal 3, Terminal 1 will be bought and developed into a "Airport City", where Cebu Pacific is first in line to invest, where they are intending to make Terminal 1 their exclusive terminal.

Terminal 2 (Centennial Terminal)

The second terminal, NAIA-2, located at the Old MIA Road, was finished in 1998 and began operations in 1999. It has been named the Centennial Terminal in commemoration of the centennial year of the declaration of Philippine independence. The 75,000-square-meter terminal was originally designed by Aéroports de Paris to be a domestic terminal, but the design was later modified to accommodate international flights. It has a capacity of 2.5 million passengers per year in its international wing and 5 million in its domestic wing, it is possible to accommodate nine million passengers per year if required.

Terminal 2 is the home of Philippine Airlines and is used for both its domestic and international flights.

It has the most flights out of all the NAIA terminals. It is divided into two wings: the North Wing, which handles international flights, and the South Wing, which handles domestic flights. It currently has 12 airbridges.

The need for two more terminals was proposed by a Master Plan Review of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport that was undertaken in 1989 by Aéroports de Paris (ADP), which was facilitated through a grant from the French Government. The review cost 2.9 million French francs and was submitted to the Philippine Government for evaluation in 1990.

In 1991, the French government granted a 30 million franc soft loan to the Government of the Philippines, which was to be used to cover the Detailed Architectural and Engineering Design of the NAIA Terminal 2. ADP completed the design in 1992 and in 1994, the Japanese Government granted an 18.12 billion yen soft loan to the Philippine Government to finance 75% of the terminal's construction costs and 100% of the supervision costs. Construction of the terminal began on December 11, 1995, and was formally turned over to the government of the Philippines on December 28, 1998.

Terminal 3

The third terminal of the airport, Terminal 3 or NAIA-3, is the newest and biggest terminal in the NAIA complex, wherein construction started in 1997. It was one of the most controversial projects the Philippine government has gotten involved with. Legal battles and red tape, especially international arbitration cases in both the United States and Singapore as a result of mismanagement of the project by the Estrada government, as well as technical and safety concerns, have delayed the opening several times. The terminal officially opened to selected domestic flights from 22 July 2008 (initially Cebu Pacific only, then Philippine Airlines' subsidiaries Air Philippines and PAL Express), with Cebu Pacific international flights using it from 1 August 2008 and other international airlines (excluding PAL) to relocate there within the year. PAL will continue to operate from Terminal 2.

Terminal 3 History

The original proposal for the construction of a third terminal was proposed by Asia's Emerging Dragon Corporation (AEDP). AEDP eventually lost the bid to PairCargo and its partner Fraport AG of Germany, who went on to begin construction of the terminal under the administration of Joseph Estrada.

Terminal 3 was approved for construction in 1997 and the structure was mostly completed several years ago and was originally scheduled to open in 2002. The ultra-modern US$640 million, 189,000 square meter facility was designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) to have a capacity of 13 million passengers per year. However, a legal dispute between the government of the Philippines and the project's main contractor, Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc. (PIATCO), over the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) contract, delayed the final completion and opening of the terminal.

While the original agreement was one in which PairCargo and Fraport AG would operate the airport for several years after its construction, followed by a handing over of the terminal to the Philippine Government, the government offered to buy out Fraport AG for $400 million, to which Fraport agreed. However, before the terminal could be fully completed, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, called the contract "onerous," formed a committee to evaluate the agreement to buy out Fraport AG. It is this action that has sparked the most controversy. The Philippine supreme court eventually found the PIATCO contract "null and void" citing a variety of anomalies.

The current administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo eventually abrogated PIATCO's BOT Contract for allegedly having been anomalous in certain important respects. In a subsequent decision, the Philippine Supreme Court upheld the Philippine Government's position on the matter and declared the BOT contract "null and void" for, among other things, having violated certain provisions of the BOT law. More specifically, the Court found that the original contract was revised to allow for a Philippine Government guarantee of PIATCO's obligations to its creditors, contractors and suppliers. The BOT law disallows the granting of such sovereign guarantees. PIATCO begs to differ and continues to maintain that the provisions cited by the Supreme Court do not amount to a prohibited sovereign guarantee by the Philippine Government.

On December 2004, the Philippine Government expropriated the terminal project from PIATCO through an order of the Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC). However, the court only allowed the Philippine Government to take over the terminal upon payment of an initial amount of PHP3 billion (approx. USD64 million) to PIATCO. The Philippine Government formally paid PIATCO the said amount on the second week of September 2006.

According to the Philippine Government, NAIA-3 was 98% complete (prior in 2006) and required at least an additional USD6 million to complete. The government was then in the process of negotiating a contract with the builder of the terminal, Takenaka of Japan, because another factor that delayed the terminal's opening was the ongoing investigation into the collapse of a 100 sqm. area of the terminal's ceiling.

PIATCO (and its German partner Fraport) have instituted arbitration proceedings before different international bodies (Piatco in Singapore before the ICC and Fraport in Washington D.C. before the ICSID) to recover a fair settlement. The case filed in Washington was decided in favor of the Philippine Government while the case in Singapore continues to be under litigation. PIATCO, speaking through its lawyers, has stated in the local Philippine press that it remains open to reaching an amicable settlement with the Philippine Government.

By Executive Order No. 732, the NAIA Terminal 3 Task Force was made and Michael Defensor was appointed on June 19, 2008 as head, creating the Presidential Task Force on the NAIA-3 that was "mandated to ensure the immediate opening and operation of Terminal III." The order provides for the NAIA-3 opening based on decisions of the Supreme Court and applicable laws.

Terminal 3 began partial operations at 5:15 a.m., on July 22, 2008 with 16 inbound and outbound domestic flights from Cebu Pacific. Philippine Airlines' budget brand PAL Express and Air Philippines moved their operations to the terminal two days later.

Cebu Pacific completely moved its domestic and international operations to the terminal in August 1, 2008.


Terminal 3 is built on a 63.5-hectare lot that sits on Villamor Air Base. The terminal building has a total floor area of 182,500 m², having a total length of 1.2 kilometres. A four-level shopping mall connects the terminal and parking buildings. The parking building has a capacity of 2,000 cars while the outdoor parking area has a capacity of 1,200 cars. The terminal is capable of servicing 33,000 passengers daily at peak or 6,000 passengers per hour.

Its apron area has a size of 147,400 m², 34 air bridges, 20 contact gates with the ability of servicing 28 planes at any given time. The terminal has 70 flight information terminals, 314 display monitors, with 300 kilometres of fibre optic I.T. cabling. It also has 29 restroom blocks. The departure area has five entrances all equipped with X-ray machines with the final security check having 18 X-ray machines while its baggage claim has 7 large baggage carousels, each with its own flight display monitor.

International travellers opine that when the terminal 3 opens, more airlines are likely to fly to the Philippines thereby giving the economy a boost; however this view may be flawed, due to the limitations of the single runway at the airport. It has been speculated that by 2010 the runway will reach full capacity. Moreover, the Philippine government itself has begun plans to relocate the majority of international operations to Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (Clark). The proposed developments would accommodate the new Airbus A380 aircraft.

Manila Domestic Passenger Terminal

This terminal is host to all domestic flights within the Philippines that are operated by Asian Spirit and South East Asian Airlines. There are no jet bridges and passengers walk to and from the aircraft or are occasionally bussed. Twenty-six Check-in counters are located in the Terminal, the arrival terminal has the seating capacity for 969 people at a time. Several food stores and a book and magazine stall are also available. Five baggage carousels are located in the terminal whilst Domestic airline offices, banks, restaurants and a grocery store are also located right beside the Domestic passenger terminal. The Domestic Terminal on the old Airport Road was built in 1948 and is located near the north end of Runway 13/31. An old hangar has since been annexed to the terminal.


Airlines operating in Ninoy Aquino International Airport as of September 2008
Airlines Destinations Terminal
Air Hong Kong Hong Kong Cargo
Air Macau Macau 1
Air Niugini Hong Kong, Port Moresby 1
Air Philippines Bacolod, Iloilo, Naga, Ozamiz, Puerto Princesa 3
Asiana Airlines Busan, Seoul-Incheon 1
Cathay Pacific Hong Kong 1
Cebu Pacific Bacolod, Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Busuanga, Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Cotabato, Davao, Dipolog, Dumaguete, General Santos, Guangzhou, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Iloilo, Jakarta, Kalibo, Kaohsiung, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, Laoag, Legazpi, Macau, Malay, Naga, Osaka-Kansai [begins November 20], Puerto Princesa, Roxas City, San Jose (Mindoro), Seoul-Incheon, Singapore, Tacloban, Tagbilaran, Taipei-Taoyuan, Tuguegarao, Zamboanga 3
China Airlines Kaohsiung, Taipei-Taoyuan 1
China Airlines Cargo Taipei-Taoyuan Cargo
China Southern Airlines Beijing, Guangzhou, Xiamen 1
Continental Airlines (operated by Continental Micronesia) Guam, Koror, Yap 1
DHL Cargo
Emirates Dubai 1
Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi 1
EVA Air Taipei-Taoyuan 1
Gulf Air Manama 1
Hawaiian Airlines Honolulu 1
Hong Kong Express Airways Hong Kong 1
JAL Cargo Osaka-Kansai, Tokyo-Narita Cargo
Japan Airlines (operated by JALways) Tokyo-Narita 1
Jetstar Asia Airways Singapore 1
KLM Amsterdam 1
Korean Air Busan, Seoul-Incheon 1
Korean Air Cargo Penang, Seoul-Incheon Cargo
Kuwait Airways Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Kuwait City 1
Malaysia Airlines Kuala Lumpur 1
Northwest Airlines Detroit, Los Angeles, Nagoya-Centrair, Tokyo-Narita 1
PAL Express Busuanga, Calbayog, Catarman, Cauayan, Malay, Ormoc, San Jose (Mindoro), Surigao, Tuguegarao, Virac 3
Philippine Airlines Bacolod, Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Beijing, Busan, Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Cotabato, Davao, Dipolog, Dumaguete, Fukuoka, General Santos, Guam, Hangzhou [begins October 28], Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Iloilo, Jakarta, Kalibo, Laoag, Las Vegas, Legazpi, Los Angeles, Macau, Melbourne, Nagoya-Centrair, Osaka-Kansai, Puerto Princesa, Roxas City, San Francisco, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai-Pudong, Singapore, Sydney, Tacloban, Tagbilaran, Taipei-Taoyuan, Tokyo-Narita, Vancouver, Xiamen, Zamboanga 2
Qantas Brisbane, Sydney 1
Qatar Airways Doha 1
Royal Brunei Airlines Bandar Seri Begawan 1
Saudi Arabian Airlines Dammam, Jeddah, Riyadh 1
South East Asian Airlines Baler, Basco, Borongan, Busuanga, Cuyo, Daet, El Nido, Malay, Tablas, Taytay Domestic
Singapore Airlines Singapore 1
Thai Airways International Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Osaka-Kansai 1
Transmile Air Services Kuala Lumpur Cargo
Zest Airways Basco, Busuanga, Calbayog, Catarman, Iloilo [begins October 15], Malay, Masbate, San Jose (Antique), San Jose (Mindoro), Virac Domestic


  • Although most of Saudi Arabian Airlines' flights to Saudi Arabia stops in Hong Kong, Saudi Arabian Airlines has no rights to transport passengers between Manila and Hong Kong.



NAIA has a primary runway (3,737 m) running at 061°/241° (designated as Runway 06/24) and a secondary runway (2,258 m) running at 136°/316° (designated as Runway 13/31).

On October 11, 2007, NAIA witnessed the debut of the Airbus A380 in the Philippines, after test aircraft MSN009 landed on NAIA's primary runway. The test flight proved that the A380 could be flown in existing runways in Asia, and that the primary international airport of the Philippines can support aircraft as large as the A380.

Other structures

The airport also serves as a gateway facility of the logistics company DHL, and hosts the aircraft repair and maintenance facilities of German firm Lufthansa Technik AG, a division of Lufthansa.

Ground transportation

Taxi service is available to NAIA from all points of Metro Manila. Also, jeepney and bus routes are available to the airport. Both forms of transportation facilities connect all three NAIA terminals as well.

The airport is also accessible to the Manila Light Rail Transit System by a two-kilometer taxi ride to Baclaran station. In the future, with the extension of the existing Yellow Line, a new station, Manila International Airport station, is set to connect the airport, albeit still indirectly, to the LRT.


  • On May 11, 1990, Philippine Airlines Flight 143, a Boeing 737-300 suffered an explosion in the center fuel tank near the terminal of Ninoy Aquino International Airport while preparing for takeoff. The fire and smoke engulfed the aircraft before it could be completely evacuated. The explosion was similar to what happened to the ill-fated TWA Flight 800 six years later. 8 people died during the incident
  • In March 2006, just before the scheduled soft-opening of terminal 3, a portion of its ceiling collapsed. This pushed back the opening indefinitely.
  • On July 26, 2008, Qantas Flight 30, a Boeing 747 headed from London to Melbourne with a stopover at Hong Kong, made an emergency landing at Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport. A gaping hole on the belly near the right wing was torn from the fuselage in mid-air when a large piece of what appeared to be canvas and a red piece of insulation material stuck out of the fuselage as if pushed by an explosion from the inside. The 747 was carrying 356 passengers and 19 crew but there were no reported injuries or fatalities.

See also


External links

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