Sunday, March 08, 2009

Philippine International Airports

(Note: pictures here are from

The country has several international airports scattered around the archipelago’s major islands. These are:

1. Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila.
2. Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) in Mactan island, Cebu province.
3. Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in Clark, Pampanga.
4. Davao International Airport in Davao City, Mindanao
5. Laoag International Airport in Laoag, Ilocos Norte

The Kalibo Airport in Kalibo, Aklan, I’m not sure if it’s also an international airport because Kalibo is the nearest big airport to Boracay, a globally-famous white sand beach resort. Also the airport in Subic and La Union, I’m not sure if they are international airports too.

NAIA is the biggest of all international airports. It has 3 terminals. Terminal 1 is the oldest and is used by all foreign airlines. Terminal 2 is used exclusively by the oldest local airline, Philippine Airlines (PAL) for its international and domestic flights. Terminal 3 is the newest and biggest, it has been finished about 6 or 7 years ago but never opened immediately due to politics and heavy corruption scandals. It was finally opened only in August 2008, and is currently used mainly by the new but biggest local airline, Cebu Pacific, for its international and domestic flights.

NAIA 1 is a very small international airport by world standards. It’s small and old, yet collected several millions of $ from passengers’ “terminal fee” alone, currently at PhP750 (around US$15.5). The smallness, oldness and lack of modernity of NAIA 1 being the premier terminal of the country for the big airlines in the world, should have contributed to the small volume of foreign visitors coming into the country. There are many factors being considered by foreign visitors, of course, it’s just that an international airport is the first structure that a first time foreign visitor will set foot and see in any country. Terminal 3 that was supposed to accommodate all foreign airlines currently using Terminal 1, took many years to be opened, and still not being used by those foreign airlines.

It is good therefore, that other foreign visitors can land in other international airports like those in Clark, Cebu and Davao. They can go nearer to their final destinations somewhere outside Metro Manila.

Given the country’s archipelagic nature (7,100+ islands), the high population (90 million, the 12th largest population in the world), the high mobility of Filipinos abroad, and the plentiful beautiful resorts in many islands, there should be more international airports in the country. More international airports means more choices for foreign visitors and returning Filipinos from abroad to see their provincial and city destinations more directly, and to fly out.

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