Manila airport upgrade up against tough regional competition!


Everybody is excited over a proposal coming from San Miguel Corporation to build a new $10 billion airport to replace the hopelessly decrepit and congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). NAIA is the main international gateway for travelers to the Philippines and is the hub for all Philippine airlines. The airport is named after the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr., who was assassinated at the airport in 1983. In 2012, all terminals at NAIA handled a record breaking annual passenger traffic of 31,558,002, making it one of the busiest airports in Asia.


According to Manila Standard Today columnist Florencio Fianza, the San Miguel proposal is a game changer

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The proposal is for the reclamation of part of the Manila Bay to put up a modern international airport complex with four runways. If this plan pushes through, it will truly be a game changer for the country. We would have a first-class airport that could rival the best in the world. This is exactly what we need at this stage of our development. If we want to join the big time, what we need is a WOW airport that we Filipinos could all be proud of and foreigners,upon landing on our shores, could not help but be impressed by their first sight of the country. This, instead of a squatter colony that one sees upon leaving Naia. First impressions are important when you go to a foreign country and it is important that we showcase our best in our international airport.

The future looks bright then, if all this comes to fruition. Here is a rundown of the competition:

Singapore Changi Airport (SIN), Singapore


In 2013, the airport handled 53.1 million passengers, a 5% increase over the previous year. This made it the fifth busiest airport by international passenger traffic in the world and the second busiest in Asia by international passenger traffic in 2012. The airport registered 4.92 million passengermovements in December 2012, a growth of 8.6% year-on-year. Changi’s daily record was broken on 21 December 2013, the Saturday before Christmas Day, with 191,800 passengers passing through the 24 hours. In addition to being an important passenger hub, the airport is one of the busiest cargo airports in the world, handling 1.85 million tonnes of cargo in 2013. The total number of commercial aircraft movements was 343,800 in 2012.

The airport has won over 430 awards since 1981, including 30 ‘Best’ awards in 2012. Changi Airport’s efforts to counter the onset of age include periodic physical upgrades to its existing terminals and building new facilities.

Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL), Malaysia


As of 2013, the airport handled 47,498,157 passengers and was Asia’s fastest growing airport recording a 19.1% growth year-on-year. It was ranked the 9th busiest airport in the world by international passenger traffic, and is the 4th busiest international airport in Asia. It was ranked the 19th busiest airport by cargo traffic in 2010.

Its international terminal (Satellite Terminal A) has prayer rooms, showers and massage services. Various lounge areas are provided, some including children’s play areas and movie lounge, broadcasting movie and sport channels. The terminal also features a natural rainforest in the middle of the terminal, exhibiting the Malaysian forests.

Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), Thailand


The airport has the world’s tallest free-standing control tower (132.2 metres or 434 feet), and the world’s fourth largest single-building airport terminal (563,000 square metres or 6,060,000 square feet).

Suvarnabhumi is the sixteenth busiest airport in the world, sixth busiest airport in Asia, and the busiest in the country, having handled 53 million passengers in 2012, and is also a major air cargo hub, with a total of 96 airlines. On social networks, Suvarnabhumi is the world’s most popular place where Instagram photographs were taken in 2012.

Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (CGK), Indonesia


Soekarno–Hatta International Airport has 180 check-in counters, 36 baggage carousels and 45 gates. The sub-terminals (1A, 1B, 1C, 2D, 2E, and 2F) have 25 check-in counters, 5 baggage carousels and 7 gates each. Terminal 3 has 30 check-in counters, 6 baggage carousels and 3 gates.

Although the airport is running over capacity, on May 4, 2012, after verification from April 23 to May 3, the Airport Council International (ACI) stated that Soekarno–Hatta International Airport is clearly being operated safely. To overcome the overcapacity, on August 2, 2012, ground was broken at terminal 3 to make it into an Aerotropolis airport which can serve 62 million passengers per year.

Ho Chi Minh City Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN), Vietnam


Tan Son Nhat International Airport is the largest airport of Vietnam in terms of passengers handled (with a number of 17,538,000 passengers per year in 2012, accounting for 46.6% of Vietnam’s air passenger traffic),[7] serving Ho Chi Minh City as well as the rest of southeastern Vietnam. Its IATA code, SGN, is derived from the city’s former name of Saigon.

[NB: Parts of and photos used in this article were lifted from various airport articles in a manner compliant to the terms stipulated in the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License that governs usage of content made available in this site.]

17 Replies to “Manila airport upgrade up against tough regional competition!”

  1. Sorted then. Should be operational about the same time the Philippine Space Agency send a manned mission to Pluto.

    1. And unfortunately San Miguel International (SMI) airport code has already gone to Samos Island in Greece! A brewery financing a major international airport hub? Surely that’s the sort of thing some Banana Republic in Africa or South America might do! Oh wait, I don’t want to antagonise the Proud Pinoy elements. But seriously, with all the corruption here in this mess, I doubt very much that I will experience a new MNL in my lifetime. Pork Barrel anyone?

      1. It would be better if you knew something about the topic before firing off vacuous comments.

        San Miguel has its roots in the alcoholic beverage industry. San Miguel Brewery, Inc. is the Philippines’ largest brewer and a leading brand in Hong Kong and South China. San Miguel Pale Pilsen is one of the world’s top-selling beers.

        To-day, San Miguel Corporation is a holding company with a diverse portfolio. Aside from the original food and beverage businesses, the company has invested in power generation, mining, petroleum (fuel and oil), infrastructure (SMC is the main developer and operator of MRT7 and holds the concessions to build and develop the third stage of the Metro Manila Skyway elevated road and the NAIA expressway), aviation (SMC owns 51% of Philippine Airlines), telecommunications and banking and finance. SMC also has a number of investments outside the Philippines.

        To date, San Miguel Corporation is worth right around US$20-21 Billion. It pulls in around US$12 Billion yearly in gross revenue. All told, this is one of the singular success stories in the Philippines that actually contribute to the building of the nation.

  2. There is a given: we need a new airport and we need it badly.
    The trouble is that with the new airport, we also need new systems and procedures in place in that airport and we require an upgrade of security and immigration facilities.
    Too much time is wasted by passengers being stopped for one thing after another as they move through the airport to their plane. The entire thing borders on harassment.
    -First, there is the annoying person at the door who wants to see if you really belong there.
    -Next is the hassle of the body and luggage scan as you enter the building (other airports scan baggage after check in and before it is put in the container to go to the aircraft. Body scans are carried out at the gate, just prior to boarding).
    -Next is check in with the airline, which is generally easy.
    -But then one has to deal with the useless step of paying terminal fees. In other countries, this is collected at the time of ticketing. Eliminating this step would save time and confusion.
    -Next is immigration, which here is slow and sometimes carried out by people who have no civility. This is a problem for the immigration officials to solve, but given that immigration raked in P2 billion last year, it should have the money to get on with getting decent, up to date equipment.
    -Next is another scan of body and hand baggage. A pure waste of time that should be relegated to just before boarding.
    -One then enters the holding area where there are precious few seats and little to do – at least at NAIA.
    -At the boarding gate there are two more document checks and by this time, passengers are fed up altogether with NAIA and its excessive procedures.
    Seriously! The people responsible ought to go abroad to a place like Changi or Hong Kong, or even Phnom Phen or Yangon!!! and see what simplified procedures they have! There is something they could learn – if our officials are capable of learning.
    Our airport is disgusting and a disgrace. It is also an insult to the intelligence of not only Filipinos but others who use the airport and IT NEEDS CHANGE!

    1. You forgot paying at the ‘travel tax’ counter. What are you even paying for there? At least the name ‘terminal fee’ suggests the money goes towards sustaining the airport (how much, who can tell?), but travel tax seems to be penalising Filipinos for having the audacity to leave their country.

      1. Well said. I have always wondered if the so called travel tax is even legal and why no one has ever tackled this? The name alone seems to imply something unlawfull. Pay tax for travelling? WTF? Another only in the Philippines. Where does the money go? Why is it also applied to foreign nationals??? There used to be a time when foreigners only had to pay travel tax if they were in the country longer than one year, then it went to 6 month. Now you pay that for any international ticket you buy. Just another bullshit tax that is being collected for god knows what.

        1. Most countries pay travel tax it is usually incorporated into the price of the ticket. I am from the U.K and we have the world’s highest travel tax.

          The amount you pay depends on the distance you fly.

          Band A. 0-2000 miles 13 pounds approx 950 pesos

          Band B. 2001-4000 miles. 43 pounds approx 2881 pesos

          Band C. 4001-6000 miles 83 pounds approx 3560 pesos

          Band D. over 6000 miles 93 pounds approx 4042 pesos.

          London to Manila is over 6,000 miles

        2. You are confusing that with Air Passenger Duty (APD), that is what you pay in England. The international taxes you mention are incorporated in ticket prices to cover Airline fees. That is true, anywhere you pay that with the ticket. But the Philippine travel tax has nothing to do with your ticket price and additional Airline fees, therefor it is collected separately and NOT incorporated in the ticket price. The Travel Tax is a levy imposed by the Philippine Government on persons who are leaving the country regardless of the country where the air ticket is issued and the form or place of payment, as provided for by Presidential Decree (PD) 1183 (in 1977 under F. Marcos), as amended. As mandated by the law, the taxes are divided among the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA), the National Parks Development Committee (NPDC), the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), Commission for Higher Education (CHED), and the General Fund of the National Government for use in government programs.

  3. Hi Jim
    Thanks for the info about Philippine travel tax i did not know that.

    Up until 2006 there was no APD in the U.K

    Since it was introduced APD has increased by 470% in 6 years. Only 5 countries in Europe currently levy a departure tax (APD) and the U.K is the most expensive by a mile.
    As of 2014 average increase in long haul flights thanks to APD is 150 pounds.

    It has nothing to do with airline fees.
    APD was introduced as a tax on the movement of air passengers.
    Nice earner for the British government and a huge increase in the cost of plane tickets.

  4. World Travel & Tourism Council

    Air Passenger Duty (APD) is a tax imposed by the UK government on all passengers flying out of the UK. Although a number of countries impose a similar tax, the UK’s APD is substantially higher.

    Evidence from the airline industry and some long haul destinations suggests that APD is having a detrimental effect on Travel & Tourism around the world as well as the economy of the UK. In early 2012, WTTC undertook research to understand the economic impact of APD on the UK’s GDP and employment. The research indicated that the impact is significant and that removing Air Passenger Duty would result in an additional 91,000 British jobs being created and £4.2 billion added to the economy in 12 months.

  5. The problem is not just the airport, but the whole city is a decrepit gateway to the Philippines. You would need to be able to land people and swiftly transfer them to Makati or the Fort without them seeing the disorganised squalor in between.

    As a transit airport if would never stack up unless these problems were addressed. There is a reason people prefer to transit through Hk, SG and BKK…. and the reason not to is Manila itself.

  6. Jim DiGriz…the travel tax is not endemic to The Philippines and is assessed in many countries, as are terminal fees.

    That aside, the BEST, most efficient airport I have ever been in is Incheon in Seoul, Korea. The prettiest is in Bangkok, Thailand and the worst by far is NAIA (pick your terminal).

  7. No matter how nice or modern your Airport is, it’s not going to matter if the same ill-mannered employees will be manning it.

  8. Wake me up when it’s completed, oops too late for me, will be finished by Y3K or could be later, who knows !

  9. I would suggest all big business sectors should contribute to invest in this project. Not just one company. It will be the best choice for all airlines because Philippines are almost the centre of the world. If they can build reputable facilities then it will be profitable for the country. It has the potential to beat all other airports. It should be closer to the shore, away from populated areas, minimum of 2 landing and 2 taking-off strips. Then the traffic problems should be address next. For some it will only be a stop-over place but if it is clean and safe, with hotels inside, restaurants and duty-free stores would be the basic things to have. Just wondering…

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