‘World’s worst airport’ about to get an exciting, much-needed upgrade

Manila’s NAIA is about to get a long-awaited, exciting upgrade. Source: Shutterstock.

“ONLY A MASOCHIST would voluntarily fly into ‘the world’s worst airport'”, wrote travel tips website tripsavvy.

The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila, Philippines, was initially designed to handle 30 million passengers, but a travel boom has choked the infrastructure and done it in with wear and tear.

“Absolute lack of passenger facilities”, “It’s very dirty”, “Metal seats are not passenger-friendly”, “Collapsing ceilings”, “Overcrowded” and “Even the toilets are yucky” are just a few of the many negative reviews.

It’s good then that NAIA is about to get a major overhaul, thanks to seven Philippine conglomerates.

According to a joint statement released by the consortium, Ventures of Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc, Ayala Corp, LT Group Inc along with Alliance Global Group Inc, Filinvest Development Corp, JG Summit Holdings Inc and Metro Pacific Investments Corp filed the unsolicited proposal on Feb 12 to the Department of Transportation.

The project will be split into two phases:

  1. Terminals on the current NAIA land will be improved and expanded
  2. A runway, taxiways, passenger terminals and support infrastructure will be built

The modernization and expansion, which is estimated to cost US$6.7 billion, will potentially triple the airport’s capacity (up to 100 million passengers) and help ease congestion.

This is in line with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s US$180 billion infrastructure plan. However, the group’s proposal will be subject to a public challenge under local rules.

Source: Shutterstock.

Some fast facts about the airport:

  • NAIA is 70 years old. In 1948, the airport was moved to its current site adjacent to the Villamor Airbase and the USAF base runway, which can be used for the airport. The original structure was built on what is now the site of Terminal 2.
  • The airport is named after the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr., who was assassinated on the airport’s tarmac in 1983.
  • NAIA currently has four terminals but only one runway that can accommodate wide-bodied aircraft for long-haul international flights, and an intersecting shorter runway used for domestic and regional flights. The airport can only handle only 40 takeoffs or landings per hour.
  • According to The Guide to Sleeping in Airport, NAIA ranked among the world’s worst airports between 2011 and 2013.
  • Passengers in NAIA in 2017 rose 6.3 percent to 42 million. Air passengers passing through Manila will probably climb to 140 million by 2035, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The consortium is hoping to elevate NAIA to a regional hub like Singapore’s Changi Airport and Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.