PHILIPPINE AIRLINES (PAL) has revived its proposal to build a P20-billion ($400-million) annex to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2 to address congestion.

PAL dusts off NAIA 2 dev’t pitch
PAL Holdings, Inc. President and Chief Operating Officer Jaime J. Bautista is seen in a press conference in Pasay City in this Jan. 22, 2015 file photograph.

“We propose to construct a Terminal 2 annex, essentially a whole new terminal connected to the current Terminal 2,” PAL President Jaime J. Bautista said yesterday in his speech at the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) General Membership Meeting.

Mr. Bautista told reporters that PAL submitted the concept in 2015 to the previous government of former president Benigno S.C. Aquino III and reiterated the proposal last May.

Mr. Bautista cited the limited space and conditions in Terminal 2, such as lack of parking space and deficiencies in amenities, as the reason for PAL’s proposal.

“Philippine Airlines operates most of our flights at Terminal 2, which is squeezed into a cramped area around the main control tower,” Mr. Bautista said.

PAL has said it has been helping in decongesting NAIA by operating more flights from areas outside Metro Manila, particularly Cebu, Clark, Davao, Puerto Princesa, Caticlan and Kalibo.

Mr. Bautista also cited the limited capacity of the four NAIA terminals, which serve 42 million passengers annually versus its actual capacity of 30 million.

“This initiative is aligned with the government’s effort to spend P10 billion to modernize the regional airports,” Mr. Bautista said.

Current PAL efforts to modernize NAIA 2, he said, include putting up travel kiosks and more swing gates, as well as upgrading of the international transfer and inter-terminal waiting lounges.

Mr. Bautista, however, described these efforts as band-aid solutions, saying: “PAL believes that we need to break free of the confines of the building and expand terminal 2 to the north.”

“The ultimate solution is think big and build our desired new Terminal 2 annex.”

The facility will rise on a 16-hectare area adjacent to Terminal 2, which will include the now-defunct Philippine Village Hotel, the former Nayong Pilipino complex and a property owned by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

The planned annex is designed to handle 12-15 million passengers per year and would be able to serve 12 to 17 wide-bodied and single-aisle jets. It will also include multi-level parking for 1,000 vehicles, a new cargo terminal and ground service facilities.

Mr. Bautista said that once the project is approved by the government, the groundbreaking is targeted for February 2018, completion of construction by December 2020 and start of operations in July 2021. The new facility will then be used for international flights and Terminal 2 will be used for domestic flights.

Mr. Bautista added that the project can generate 3,000 jobs, including managers and ramp service crew.

“… [w]e cannot deny the immense state of NAIA’s infrastructure challenge… It is really hampering our ability to grow.”

PAL plans to expand its fleet of 87 aircraft to 96 by 2021. Eighteen old aircraft will be phased out and 27 new aircraft will be acquired, targeted for use for long-haul flights such as fights to New York, San Francisco, and London.

PAL said earlier this month that it posted a P1.66-billion net loss last semester, a reversal from its year-ago P4.61-billion net income, on the back of bigger expenses primarily due to increased flights and maintenance cost.

Shares of listed parent PAL Holdings, Inc. edged up 0.19% to end P5.20 each yesterday, against the 0.99% rise of the services sub index to which they belong. — Patrizia Paola C. Marcelo