Garuda Indonesia and Oman Air Cleared to Serve Manila

After five foreign carriers transferred from the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 to the much newer Terminal 3, other foreign carriers are already lining up to take their place. Oman Air and Garuda Indonesia have been targeting Manila as a new destination for several months but slot restrictions at the crowded airport have made it challenging for new entrants to serve the market until recently. 

Image Source: Oman Air
According to Jose Angel Honrado, General Manager of the Manila International Airport Authority, both Garuda Indonesia and Oman Air have been granted permission to operate from NAIA Terminal 1. However, it remains unclear when either of the carriers plan to begin service. 

It was announced earlier this year that Garuda Indonesia planned to serve Manila by the end of 2014. However, the carrier recently decided to postpone those plans after a weak financial performance in order to restructure its international route network and slow expansion. 

Last year, Oman Air filed an application to begin flights to Manila. But the application was rejected due to constricted infrastructure at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. According to an official at the Civil Aeronautics Board, Oman Air was seeking airport slots during the airport's most congested hours. Although the carrier was willing to adjust schedules, it conflicted with other routes operated by the same aircraft. It is believed that Oman Air may have to postpone its plans to serve Manila until next year when it accepts delivery of additional aircraft.

Oman Air has been eager to set up service between Manila and Muscat since the Philippines and Sultanate of Oman forged an air agreement in 2009 that permits at least 19 weekly flights between the two nations. However, up until the present, there is currently no flights being operated between Manila and Muscat. Both Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines have expressed interest in operating the route but so far, flights have failed to materialize. Currently, there are 31,000 Filipinos residing in Oman. 

Meanwhile, the Manila International Airport Authority has confirmed that the rehabilitation of NAIA Terminal 1 is on track to be completed by the first quarter of 2015. Last year, the Philippine government approved a P1.16 billion budget for the structural rehabilitation and retrofitting of Terminal 1, with P500 million allocated for architectural, engineering, and interior design. 

Currently, the airport is focused on the transfer of five foreign carriers from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3. Delta Airlines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, and Singapore Airlines have all been asked to make the transfer in an effort to decongest Terminal 1. 

The airport authority plans to closely monitor the transfer and integration of these carriers into the operations at Terminal 3 to ensure that all of the systems are in place to adequately serve them before adding more carriers. "We are using this period from August to December to tweak the system to make sure that the systems at Terminal 3 can accept more," said Honrado. 

Honrado added that more foreign carriers are expected to transfer to Terminal 3 by next year. In addition, local carriers Cebu Pacific and AirAsia Zest are expected to add additional flights from Terminal 3 in the first quarter of next year. 

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