1st foreign carrier flies out of NAIA 3

By Rainier Allan Ronda, The Philippine Star

Posted at Mar 06 2011 01:11 AM | Updated as of Mar 07 2011 09:38 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Japanese airline All Nippon Airways (ANA) became the first foreign carrier to operate in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 with its inaugural flight earlier this week.

Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Undersecretary for the Air and Railways Sector Glicerio Sicat said the NAIA Terminal 3 was declared ready to accommodate ANA despite being only partially open.

Japanese firm Takenaka Corporation, whom they had tapped to undertake the completion of the unfinished section of the terminal to prepare for full commercial operations by the end of the year, has given the go-signal for ANA to operate at the facility.

“They said it (could) be accommodated. There can be additional flights,” Sicat said.

Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) executive director Caremlo Arcilla said ANA will utilize the terminal for its daily Manila-Narita flights.

The move of ANA to start the Manila to Japan flight was an indication of the growing passenger volume for flights between the two countries, Arcilla pointed out.

“It’s a response to the demand in traffic because of growth…airlines put up additional flights because there is a demand,” he said.

DOTC Secretary Jose de Jesus recently revealed plans to push for the full operation of NAIA Terminal 3 before the end of the year.

De Jesus said the DOTC is hiring Takenaka, the primary subcontractor of the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. (PIATCO) which bagged the NAIA Terminal 3 build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract, to complete the unfinished portion of the terminal.

The Supreme Court earlier nullified the BOT contract of PIATCO after finding amendments made to it highly disadvantageous to the government.

The DOTC’s announcement to have Takenaka back raised concerns with officials of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), who saw it as an ill-advised move considering their previous experience with the Japanese firm.

In 2007, a portion of the ceiling of the terminal collapsed, stopping efforts of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) then to hold a soft opening of the NAIA-3 that year.

The MIAA, under then general manager Alfonso Cusi, terminated Takenaka’s contract in early 2008 after its civil works plan was found to be below standard.

“The (MIAA) board decided to firmly cut off Takenaka... They were not able to meet the standards required for the remediation works on (the facility’s) safety,” Cusi earlier said.

MIAA sources stressed Cusi’s and the previous MIAA officials’ decision to boot out Takenaka was justified considering its track record in constructing the terminal.