Monday, July 28, 2014

Philippine Airlines: Tan & SMC Battle for 100% Control

A report in the Philippine Inquirer has revealed that the existing alliance between San Miguel Corporation and the Lucio Tan Group, which jointly owns Philippine Airlines, is about to end. Insiders have suggested that the two sides are encountering management differences and no longer share the same vision, which will ultimately lead to one group buying out the other and regaining full control of the national flag carrier.

Image Source: Boracay Informer
While Ramon Ang and San Miguel Corporation have been reporting that Lucio Tan intends to exit the airline business putting up his 51-percent PAL stake up for sale, the Lucio Tan group have been pooling funds to purchase back the 49-percent stake that was originally sold to San Miguel Corporation with the intention of reclaiming complete management control of Philippine Airlines.

The San Miguel Corporation became a strategic partner in 2012 when it purchased a 49-percent stake in Philippine Airlines for $500-million to support the carrier's modernization and re-fleeting program. However, industry sources have revealed that San Miguel Corporation is also willing to sell back its interest in PAL to the Lucio Tan group "at cost" and has been willing to do so from as early as last year. 

The key issue that remains is whether the Lucio Tan group will be able to raise the money required to buy back the 49-percent stake from San Miguel Corporation. Although SMC signed a $500-million deal to purchase part of Philippine Airlines and its sister carrier, PAL Express, industry sources suggest that Tan's group will require at least $1 billion to obtain full control from San Miguel Corporation in order to cover the cost of buying back the shares held by SMC plus the advances made on behalf of PAL for the acquisition of several new aircraft under Ang's ambitious re-fleeting program. 

If Tan cannot raise the necessary funds required, the San Miguel Corporation will be the one to buy out the Tan family's remaining 51 percent stake. Sources familiar with the discussions refer to it as a "buy-me-out-or-I-buy-you-out" situation, suggesting that, "it will happen very soon," which will leave only one group in control of the carrier.

The efforts to regain control of Philippine Airlines by the Lucio Tan group is being conducted outside of the publicly-listed LT Group Inc, and is primarily being backed by Tan's first family. To boost the initiative further, Tan has re-enlisted former PAL President Jaime Bautista to act as his Executive Assistant in his role as the airline's chairman. It remains a possibility that the Tan group may borrow money in an effort to raise the necessary capital.

As for Ang, sources indicate that he is aware of the attempt of the Tan group to regain control of PAL, but his attitude has remained "wait-and-see" to determine if Tan will be able to raise the $1 billion. Meanwhile, Ang continues to prepare for the possibility that San Miguel Corporation may end up buying out the Tan group.

Industry sources have suggested that the animosity between Tan and San Miguel Group started as early as when Ramon Ang took over management of Philippine Airlines. An unidentified source commented on the Philippine Flight Network website that Tan has not agreed with a number of the decisions made by Ang including the contracting of annual aircraft maintenance to facilities in China, rather than using the local Lufthansa Technik operation, which Tan is a minority owner of. 

In addition, other industry sources suggest than Tan is also upset about a generous early retirement option that is being offered by the Ang management team to PAL employees, which Tan feels is front-loading expenses and weeding out long-term PAL veterans. 

Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
Concerns have also been raised about the aviation supply arrangement with Petron Corporation, which is controlled by San Miguel, and the leasing of a large number of aircraft. SMC suggests that the initiatives were merely to create synergies and improve operating efficiencies at Philippine Airlines, but such moves have been interpreted differently by members of the Tan group. Moreover, there have also been issues pertaining to privileges that were lost by the Tan family when SMC assumed management of PAL.

However, the San Miguel Corporation insists that their primary focus in all decision making has always been on restoring the carrier to profitability. While this story is far from unfolding, it is becoming clearer as to why the Tan Group originally wanted to divest its share of Philippine Airlines as Tan likely does not believe in the direction that Ang is steering PAL in. But with few interested in purchasing a stake in the carrier, Tan is left with no choice but to take control back. 

As for Ramon Ang, it seems that he would be equally as happy to divest of San Miguel's interest in the carrier, now realizing that restoring a national carrier to profitability is anything but easy. Ang previously suggested that the corporation would be willing to let go of its interest in PAL should it win the opportunity to construct a new international airport for Manila. 

While this battle continues to unfold, the only people that seem to truly be losing are the passengers. This has been reflected in a number of the decisions that have been made recently at the carrier that has drawn mixed reviews from industry critics and passengers. Philippine Airlines recently recorded a dismal performance at the annual World Airline Awards, ranking 93rd out of 100 airlines worldwide. Meanwhile, an announcement on the lease or purchase of additional long-haul aircraft is likely not to take place until the issue of control is resolved.

Air Asia Increases Kuala Lumpur to Kalibo Flights to Daily

Malaysia-based AirAsia will be increasing the frequency of its flights between the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur and the popular gateway to Boracay Island, Kalibo International Airport, from four weekly flights to daily service.

air asia kalibo flights
Copyright Photo: Airbus
The new daily schedule is set to take effect on October 23 just in time for the busy holiday season, providing travellers with added convenience being able to plan their trips on any day of the week. According to Spencer Lee, Head of Commercial for AirAsia Malaysia, the new daily service also provides travellers with greater flexibility to access AirAsia's extensive route network.

"With this additional frequency, guests who are travelling on this route can connect to both Kuala Lumpur & Kalibo on a daily basis, and this will enable them to further take advantage of our vast route network, especially via Kuala Lumpur," said Lee. "Kalibo is a great gateway to Boracay, and we are proud to be the airline that offers the best connectivity to this paradise island from Malaysia with our daily flights."

kuala lumpur-kalibo
Image Source: Wikimedia
AirAsia also connects travellers via its Kuala Lumpur hub to two additional destinations in the Philippines. Flights are offered from Kuala Lumpur to Cebu three times weekly and from Kuala Lumpur to Manila twice daily. In Manila, guests can connect to AirAsia's domestic route network serving a number of Philippine cities including Tacloban, Puerto Princesa, Tagbilaran, Kalibo, and Cebu. AirAsia also offers daily service between Kota Kinabalu and Manila.

The new flights between Kuala Lumpur and Kalibo will be added on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday complementing the existing four flights per week. Flight AK608 departs Kuala Lumpur at 11:35am and arrives at Kalibo at 3:30pm. The return flight, AK609, conveniently departs Kalibo at 3:55pm and arrives in Kuala Lumpur at 7:40pm.

kuala lumpur-boracay
Image Source:
AirAsia is the largest low-cost carrier in Asia with a fleet of more than 160 aircraft carrying guests to more than 88 destinations. It has established operations in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, India, and Japan. In the Philippines, it is represented by local affiliates, AirAsia Philippines and AirAsia Zest. AirAsia was recently voted the World's Best Low Cost Airline at the annual World Airline Awards for the sixth consecutive year.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Philippine Airlines Switching Aircraft on Honolulu and Bangkok Routes

The latest airline timetables have revealed that Philippine Airlines is planning to replace the existing aircraft currently operating routes from Manila to Honolulu and Manila to Bangkok. The Honolulu A340 service will be replaced with an A330 aircraft, while the existing A330 service to Bangkok will begin utilising a higher density A330 aircraft. But whether this is good news or not for travellers remains to be seen. 
pal a330
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
Business travellers to Bangkok will be left with even less choice as Philippine Airlines replaces its existing A330 service featuring Business and Economy Class with a high-density version of the A330 aircraft in an all-economy class configuration. The change will come into effect on October 26, 2014 on flights PR730 and PR731. 
When the change takes effect, passengers in economy will also feel a tighter squeeze. The existing A330 aircraft serving the Bangkok route is one of PAL's older models with 302 seats in a two class configuration featuring 42 seats in Business Class and 260 seats in Economy Class. Mainscreen service is offered in Economy Class for in-flight entertainment and the economy cabin is configured with eight seats across in a 2-4-2 configuration
However, the new aircraft that is due to take over the Bangkok service is a high-density A330 aircraft configured with 414 seats in an all-economy layout. The aircraft features 39 seats in Premium Economy and 375 seats in Economy Class. One of the most noticeable changes for passengers in the new aircraft is the tighter configuration with 9 nine seats across in a 3-3-3 configuration, along with the absence of any in-flight entertainment. Philippine Airlines has been using this aircraft type on routes to the Middle East.
Passengers that wish to reserve a seat in the Business Class cabin will still have an opportunity to book a seat aboard PAL's second daily flight to Bangkok. Flights PR736 and PR737 is operated by a 156-seat A320-200 aircraft in a two-class configuration featuring both Business and Economy Class. Passengers in the economy cabin also get to enjoy main screen in-flight entertainment and the standard 3-3 configuration.
Meanwhile, passengers bound for Honolulu can also expect changes as Philippine Airlines is set to replace its existing A340-300 service with the new A330-300 HGW aircraft. PAL currently operates just three weekly flights to Hawaii but will gradually be increasing frequency over the next few months. On December 11, 2014, Philippine Airlines will introduce daily service on the route and begin operating it with the Airbus A330. 
The A340-300 aircraft that operates the Honolulu route features mainscreen in-flight entertainment and a two-class cabin featuring anywhere from 254 to 294 seats depending on the particular aircraft used. The Economy Class aboard the A340 is configured with eight seats across in a 2-4-2 layout
Although Philippine Airlines will be upgrading the service to the newest member of its fleet, passengers will face a tighter squeeze. The new A330 aircraft is configured with 368 seats with 18 in Business Class, 27 in Premium Economy, and 323 in Regular Economy. Those seated in either of the economy class cabins will now have to endure nine seats across as the A330 aircraft is configured in a 3-3-3 layout unlike the A340 with just eight seats across.
The A330-300 HGW aircraft features the new Philippine Airlines cabin design. Although there is no built in in-flight entertainment for passengers, the aircraft offers GSM and WiFi capability enabling passengers to make calls and browse the internet while in-flight. However, these services come at a fee. In addition, the new aircraft offers PAL's wireless in-flight entertainment that enables passengers to stream live content to their personal electronic devices such as smart phones and tablets. For those who do not have their own device on hand, iPad tablets are available for rent to passengers in Economy Class, while passengers in Business Class are provided with a tablet at no charge. 
Passengers travelling in Business Class on the A330-300 HGW will also get to experience the new Philippine Airlines Business Class cabin that features Equinox 3D seats produced by Sogerma with a spacious 60-inch seat pitch. It can recline to various lounging positions including a fully flat position for those that wish to sleep. 
Depending on the preferences of passengers, it remains unclear whether these aircraft changes will lead to a better or worse in-flight experience for passengers given the lack of in-flight entertainment and the tighter seating conditions. Is it an upgrade or a downgrade? That will ultimately be up to the individual traveller to decide. 
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Puerto Princesa: The City in the Forest

As the sun shines bright over Puerto Princesa City in Palawan, visitors are welcomed by a sea of blue and white tricycles along Rizal Avenue. The usual city establishments can be seen but they are distinguished by the beautiful green scenery that emerges from the trees surrounding the city.

As I look outside from the windows of an empty van, the city makes me feel close to home but in a different kind of way. It is an urbanized place where businesses continue to thrive, but dazzling white sand beaches, thrilling coral reefs and landscapes are just minutes or hours away from the city centre. 

As the shuttle took its last turn to get to the hotel, I was delighted to see how Puerto Princesa City can effortlessly breathe life into the picture post card scenes and online photographs that we see constantly.

New 7 Wonders of Nature

The tour shuttle arrived as I was finishing my dangit (dried fish) for breakfast. Kuya Bojie introduced himself as the tour guide for our cruise tour of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. This unique site is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is declared one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

This incredible view is available from the Sabang X Zipline
Copyright Photo: travelling_bk/PFN
As the van moved through the concrete jagged road, a relaxing green landscape full of trees and mountains was ready to be captured. You will be left in awe that nature could be so beautiful, while feeling inspired that the locals are committed to keeping it that way. As the van arrived at Sabang Port, the primary gateway to the underground river, we were greeted by the sight of numbered boats adorned with colorful banderitas. Overall, the system is well organized with a central dispatcher advising which boat is next and where to receive the next group of tourists.

"Be careful when opening your bags upon reaching our destination and do not leave your things out of sight," advised our tour guide as we put on our orange life jackets. I looked at him oddly with a puzzled look on my face. He then added, "There are no thieves in the city but all of them are here. The real thieves are the monkeys."
The boatman prepares to dock the boat on the shore
Copyright Photo: travelling_bk/PFN
The frequent visitors to the river park have influenced the natural way that the macaques, the species of monkey living on the island, hunt for food. As tourists used to constantly provide them with food, the macaques became dependent. In an effort to encourage the species to go back to their normal food hunting patterns, tourists are now prevented from giving food or bringing anything that could be mistakenly seen as food.

As the boat docked at the entrance of the national park, a shore with calming waves and towering limestone rock formations could be seen. We were guided on a trail to get to the paddle boats that would bring us inside the cave. The trail encompasses a collection of magnificent trees all fighting for light.

The trail heading to the paddled boat area
Copyright Photo: travelling_bk/PFN
As we encountered a sign stating, “To the Caves,” we felt hypnotized to run to the edge of the trail as we grew excited knowing that we were close to our destination. Standing at the foot of a mountain of limestone firmly submerged in the frigid turquoise waters was the opening where the boats paddle into the cave. The water was so peaceful and tranquil as if the Gods had used all of their powers to keep it so idyllic.

Copyright Photo: travelling_bk/PFN
"Look up but please keep your mouth shut," said the boatman. As I looked up, a school of bats hanged above me with some either sleeping or looking back at me. The cave is home to almost 40,000 bats, which all come out when it is dawn. As the boat man slowly paddled while telling stories, I felt a surge of excitement as if I was moving from one room to another in a magnificent museum with the beauty of the inside equally as beautiful as the outside.

Copyright Photo: travelling_bk/PFN
As the boat reached the end of the area that is open for tourists, I asked myself what is beyond the 7 kilometres of this dark cold cave. I wondered if there were waterfalls or even an area where you could dock and swim in the cold brackish water. But still, the 45 minute trip was already an impressive leap to a different world and seeing the light made it so clear why people want to preserve this beautiful heritage site.

Copyright Photo: travelling_bk/PFN
Copyright Photo: travelling_bk/PFN
Copyright Photo: travelling_bk/PFN

The Islands

The next day, I encountered the sun’s heat beating down on me as I cruised aboard a boat along the calm dark blue sea towards the islands of Honda Bay. It is one of the most popular destinations in Palawan where snorkelers and divers can enjoy a stunning marine sanctuary. You can see different species of fish, clams and corals living together in harmony. As I prepared my aquatic gear for a day of exploration, we approached the floating structure that is the gateway to the Pambato Reefs. A brown roof, shaped into a big sea turtle provided us with shade.

The Dalubkaragatan area.
Copyright Photo: travelling_bk/PFN
The entire floating structure was mostly made of wood where blue plastic containers are used to keep the Dalubkaragatan (School in the Sea) afloat. All visitors were oriented regarding the protected sanctuary and informed of guidelines and expectations. As I walked towards the diving site, I checked my life jacket and camera twice to ensure that they were secure as the reef was said to measure 40 meters deep. Anything that leaves your body would likely be lost forever.

The corals that can bee seen in the area
Copyright Photo: travelling_bk/PFN
The boatman takes a picture of the visitors in Pambato Reefs
Copyright Photo: travelling_bk/PFN
“Langoy kayo doon pa sir, mas marami pang magagandang corals doon!” (Sir, swim over to that area. There are more corals to see there!) said our tour guide. Totally scared, I let go of the orange circular floater and let myself swim towards the end. To my surprise, it was just like a scene in a mermaid show where a stunning color palette had been splashed over the entire area. There was a blue violet coral at the bottom, a red one on top, a white yellowish one on the side, and small fishes swimming everywhere. It's a scene that is just so beautiful like watching a 3D movie right in front of you. Though I wanted to stay at this location, the tour group needed to head to another island where we could swim and do other water activities.

School of Fish / Copyright Photo: travelling_bk/PFN
The boat docked on another white sandy shore where several brown cottages were lined up. Towards the left, a group of young people holding a monopod posed beside a sign that said, ‘Pandan Island.’ This island is where people usually do water activities and eat lunch on the Honda Bay Island Hopping Tour. Though most tours provide lunch, there are a lot of local people who offer seafood that they will cook and serve for your entire group. Lunch was a feast with shrimps, steamed fish, crabs, clams, seaweed and abalone. To my surprise, tamilok (naval shipworm) is not offered but I would have loved to try it if it was. Tamilok is a clam that is usually mistaken as a worm. Though I tasted fried tamilok around the city, I have never tasted it as kinilaw.

Sand castle built by the locals on Pandan Island.
Copyright Photo: travelling_bk/PFN
Boats parked as they wait for their visitors to head back to the city.
Copyright Photo: travelling_bk/PFN
After eating, I decided to take a short walk to a place where small starfishes are unnoticeable because of their color. They almost look like fossils but turning them upside down, you see the ampulla where the tube foot is continuously extending and retracting. As I sat and returned the starfishes to the water, I saw two kids making their own sand castle. I felt happy seeing that children get the chance to play in this wonderful environment, and at the same time, thankful for the locals who are committed to caring for this sanctuary.

The white and almost colorless starfish
Copyright Photo: travelling_bk/PFN
Children making their own sand castle
Copyright Photo: travelling_bk/PFN
After staying on the island for roughly 5 hours, we decided to head back to the city. As the small waves sprayed mist towards me, I felt so blessed to see the wonders of the island. The islands are an integral part of sustaining tourism in the province of Palawan and it will only flourish as long as people continue to take care of these natural wonders. As I ended my quick tour, I would definitely say that the pictures on those postcards are real and would definitely come back to visit again. See you soon, Palawan!

The view that sums up my Palawan experience.
Copyright Photo: travelling_bk/PFN
Traveler's Notes:

Philippine Airlines Ranks Near Bottom of Global Airline Survey

Philippine Airlines has once again ranked near the bottom of the annual Global Airline Rankings at the World Airline Awards. Out of 100 carriers worldwide, Philippine Airlines achieved a dismal 93rd place at the 2014 Awards, which represents a drop from the 90th place that the carrier achieved the previous year.

philippine airlines 747
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
The 2014 World Airline Awards were held this year at the historic Wind Tunnels in Farnborough, England during the recently held Farnborough Air Show. The results are determined based on an annual survey that attracts responses from more than 18 million passengers around the world. 

For 2014, the World Airline Customer Survey obtained responses from 18.85 million business and leisure travellers representing more than 105 nationalities across all cabin types including First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy, and Economy. The survey was conducted between August 2013 and May 2014. 

Respondents typically evaluate more than 245 global airlines from low cost carriers to major international airlines based on their performance in the areas of check-in, boarding, seat comfort, cabin cleanliness, food, beverage, in-flight entertainment, and staff service. 

At the 2014 awards, Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific ranked first over all of the world's international airlines. Qatar Airways ranked second, while Singapore Airlines ranked in third place this year. Cathay Pacific is the only carrier in the world to have achieved first place four times. The airline grabbed the top spot in 2003, 2005, 2009, and 2014. 

According to Skytrax Chief Executive Officer, Edward Plaisted, Cathay Pacific was the best performer across all types of travel. "Some airlines were very good in economy, others in luxury, but Cathay Pacific Airways was top, or near the top, in all categories." 

For Cathay Pacific CEO Ivan Chu, the achievement of first place is another vote of confidence in the airline from the world's air travellers. "The World's Best Airline award is particularly important to us because it was decided by the votes of close to 19 million travellers from around the world," said Chu. "Thank you to everyone who voted for us."

If Philippine Airlines intends to rise as one of the world's prominent global airlines reflecting a world-class standard, it will need to do a much better job of convincing passengers that it is worthy of such a title. Since being taken over by San Miguel Corporation, Philippine Airlines has made a number of changes that has drawn a mixture of both praise and criticism. 

In spite of making some improvements and investing in new aircraft, passengers and industry observers continue to question some of the airline's decisions in terms of ambitious routes, in-flight entertainment, business class standards, service downgrades, and brand identity. In the case of in-flight entertainment, Philippine Airlines has taken a step to the left, while other carriers have taken a step to the right. 

PAL recently launched its new aircraft cabin design aboard its brand new fleet of A330-300HGW aircraft. However, the airline did not install a single television screen for in-flight entertainment in business or economy class. Instead, the airline opted to use a wireless entertainment system that streams media content to the personal devices of passengers. For those in economy class that do not bring their own personal device, an iPad rental is available for a fee. 

Philippine Airlines management believe that they are on the right path to meet a new trend in the industry. However, there is little evidence to suggest that this is the true direction of the airline industry with carriers such as Cathay Pacific continuing to make further investments in its on-board cabin product and in-flight entertainment systems. Most recently, Cathay Pacific enhanced its in-flight entertainment when it revealed its new Premium Economy class, which features a 10.6" touch screen personal television and the ability to stream content from your own personal device including music and videos. 

Based on the results of the most recent World Airline Customer Survey, one would be led to believe that Cathay Pacific is the carrier on the right track, making the right moves that passengers want. With its investments in in-flight entertainment and improvements to the rest of its on-board product, Cathay Pacific managed to rise from 6th place in 2013 to 1st place in 2014, a ranking that it has proudly held for three other years. 

Meanwhile, Philippine Airlines has dropped a further three slots from its ranking in 2013 of 90th place to an embarrassing 93rd place out of 100 carriers. One could easily suggest that in spite of the efforts of San Miguel Corporation, passengers are still not satisfied with what they are receiving from the nation's flag carrier. 

Even Garuda Indonesia, a carrier that has faced similar challenges as Philippine Airlines having also been on the European blacklist for airlines with significant safety concerns, managed to claw back and achieve 7th place at this year's airline awards. Garuda Indonesia also took home the top place for the World's Best Cabin Crew. Philippine Airlines did not even place in the top 10 in that category on a global basis or even within Asia. 

However, the news was not all dismal for Philippine carriers. AirAsia Group, headed by Tony Fernandes, once again claimed the title of the World's Best Low-Cost Airline for the sixth consecutive year. AirAsia is represented in the Philippines by its local affiliates, AirAsia Zest and AirAsia Philippines. 

"It all started with a dream 12 years ago. From two aging aircraft and just six routes back in 2002, we have grown to operate a proud fleet of over 160 aircraft, 95 destinations, and carried over 250 million guests," said Fernandes. "It is a great honour to be acknowledged as the World's Best Low Cost Airline for six consecutive years and for that, I thank our guests, whose valuable criticisms and feedback made us an outstanding airline today. In aviation, the one thing that remains constant is change and innovation." 

The annual Skytrax awards are conducted on a non-profit basis with rigorous monitoring during the survey process to ensure that there is no external influence or airline involvement. " The reputation of these awards relies on our ability to maintain transparency across the survey and awards format," said Edward Plaisted, CEO of Skytrax. "We know that some award-winning airlines are not the favourite of everyone, and we receive vocal feedback and complaints from a few users each year when results are published. However, we can do no more than remind them that award-winning airlines are decided by their fellow airline customers, and not by Skytrax."

The World Airline Awards has been held since 1999. Philippine travellers can write reviews of their flights with Philippine carriers and share their experience at Philippine Flight Network Airline Reviews.

World's Best Airline (2014)
  1. Cathay Pacific
  2. Qatar Airways
  3. Singapore Airlines
  4. Emirates
  5. Turkish Airlines
  6. ANA All Nippon Airways
  7. Garuda Indonesia
  8. Asiana Airlines
  9. Etihad Airways
  10. Lufthansa
Best Airline in Asia (2014)
  1. Cathay Pacific
  2. Singapore Airlines
  3. ANA All Nippon Airways
  4. Garuda Indonesia
  5. Asiana Airlines
  6. EVA Air
  7. Thai Airways International
  8. Malaysia Airlines
  9. Hainan Airlines
  10. Bangkok Airways
Best Low-Cost Airline in Asia (2014)
  1. AirAsia
  2. AirAsia X
  3. Indigo
  4. Jetstar Asia
  5. Scoot
  6. Peach
  7. Spicejet
  8. Tigerair Singapore
  9. Nok Air
  10. Skymark Airlines

Five Foreign Carriers Set to Transfer to NAIA Terminal 3

Five foreign carriers are set to transfer to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 leaving behind the much older Terminal 1 starting next month. The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) confirmed earlier this week that NAIA Terminal 3 will be fully operational by the end of July as most of the rehabilitation work has already been completed.

Image Source: Travelling_bk/PFN
The airlines that are due for transfer include Delta Airlines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific. These carriers have been identified to have the highest volume of passengers of all the foreign carriers and the DOTC has asked them to transfer in an effort to decongest NAIA Terminal 1. According to Steven Crowdey, Director of Delta Airlines for the Philippines, Australia and Micronesia, the first arrivals on July 31 and the first departures on August 1 will be served from Terminal 3. For KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, the first arrival and departure from Terminal 3 will take place on August 4. However, Emirates will not begin shifting  its operations until August 15 serving flight numbers EK 337 and EK 336. The Emirates airport office is set to move on the night of August 14. Meanwhile, Cathay Pacific has not confirmed a transfer date in August yet but will make an announcement at the earliest possible opportunity. Singapore Airlines has also yet to announce a transfer date but is expected to move by the end of August.

NAIA Rehabilitation: Terminal 1 and 3

The contractor, Takenaka Corporation of Japan, has finished 85 percent of the rehabilitation works enabling Terminal 3 to accommodate an additional 3.5 million passenger every year. The flight information display systems, computer terminals, gate coordination, landing bridges and fire protection systems have all been installed to support expanded airline operations. As the project nears completion, the transfer of the five foreign carriers will help to decrease the number of passengers currently using the older NAIA Terminal 1, enhancing passenger comfort and convenience. This will enable Terminal 1 to begin serving passengers once again at its original design capacity of 4.5 million passengers rather than the current 8 million.

Meanwhile, the ongoing rehabilitation of Terminal 1 continues being handled by DM Consuji Inc. It is expected to finish early next year. The rehabilitation project was launched in preparation for the upcoming Asia Pacific Economic Summit that will be hosted by the Philippines in November 2015. The old terminal has remained a controversial issue as it has twice been rated as the world’s worst airport in 2011 and 2013. Most recently, the Wall St. Cheat Sheet ranked it as the 8th worst airport in the world.

While the current rehabilitation and improvements are a temporary solution to address some of the on-going issues at NAIA such as congestion, the DOTC is still looking to construct a brand new international airport for Manila that would be operational 10 years from now. Recent studies conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency revealed that passengers in the Capital Region will hit as high as 106.7 million by 2040, which is a significant increase from the current 31.88 million recorded in 2012.