Seventeen years after the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) awarded the concession agreement for the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 project, the modern passenger terminal building may finally be ready for full airline operations on July 31.
“We are extremely pleased to confirm that full airline operations will begin at NAIA Terminal 3 next week. Our gateway airport will now be able to welcome 3.5 million more passengers with modern facilities every year, and Terminal 1 will now be considerably decongested to improve passenger convenience,” DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said in a statement.
“The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) has informed us that Delta Airlines will have its first flight out of Terminal 3 on August 1, while KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will move within the first week of August. Singapore Airlines, Emirates, and Cathay Pacific will follow suit by the end of next month. These five carriers have the highest volume of international flights coming into and out of NAIA, so we look forward to giving them a new home,” Abaya added.
The NAIA-3 project was awarded to a consortium of the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. (Piatco) and German-based airport operator Fraport AG in 1997, and was supposed to be completed in 2002. A number of legal issues related to the bidding process, subcontracting work, the ownership profile of the consortium, and major changes to the original contract led to the terminal’s expropriation by the Arroyo government in 2004, miring the terminal in legal battles that delayed its opening until 2008, and even then only on a partial basis.
In August last year, Terminal 3’s original contractor, Takenaka Corp. of Japan, was engaged to complete the terminal’s facilities under a $40 million contract regardless of the ongoing cases.
Over the past year, the Japanese firm has undertaken completion works for systems such as flight information displays, computer terminals, gate coordination, landing bridges, and fire protection systems, with about 85 percent of the work being reported as completed as of July 18. Other systems, such as the building maintenance system, which are not critical to airline operations are scheduled to be completed within the year.
The transfer of the five airlines is intended to reduce Terminal 1’s annual passenger throughput from the current 8 million down to its design capacity of 4.5 million, easing passenger congestion and speeding up Terminal 1’s ongoing rehabilitation work.
“We made sure that 17 years and 4 administrations later, the whole Terminal 3 facility may be enjoyed by the public within this term,” Abaya said.