Cathay Pacific makes move to Naia 3

By Lenie Lectura, Business Mirror

Posted at May 11 2010 12:36 AM | Updated as of May 11 2010 03:44 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Hong Kong-based flag carrier Cathay Pacific Airways will soon be the first international airline to use Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia), the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) said.

“Cathay Pacific has showed interest already. In fact, they have requested already a passenger lounge area,” said MIAA general manager Melvin Matibag. ?

Two more international airlines have expressed interest, added Matibag. “There are 2 more. Negotiations started last week. We hope it can be concluded very soon.

Talks with Cathay Pacific, said the MIAA official, are expected to be concluded soon. “Hopefully [everything will be finalized] before my term ends on June 30,” Matibag said.

Foreign carriers have not been keen moving to the new terminal due to legal issues following the government’s decision to expropriate the terminal 5 years ago and terminate the build, operate and transfer contract with Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc. and German partner Fraport AG.?

There are only 2 airlines that currently operate in Naia Terminal 3. These are low-cost carriers Airphil Express, a sister company of Philippine Airlines, and Cebu Pacific, which is controlled by the Gokongwei Group of Companies.

Cebu Pacific had said it will be able to fill up the capacity of the new terminal in about 2 years. It expects to register 13 million passengers by 2012, which is the current capacity of Terminal 3, and a total of 15 million by 2013. Of the 15-million target, Cebu Pacific projects that 12.1 million passengers will come from the Manila hub; 2.3 million from the Cebu hub; 300,000 from Davao; and 400,000 from Clark.

“Well, we are aware of [the capacity issue]. But Terminal 3 is designed to be an international airport. We want to showcase it to the world,” he said.

This also holds true even if Clark is being groomed as an international gateway. “We believe we will remain as the main gateway,” added Matibag.

Naia Terminal 3 has been posting tremendous growth since it started operations nearly 2 years ago

Passengers at Terminal 3 went up by 15% to 1,737,451 in the first quarter while flight movement grew almost 8% to 16,468 during the period. The new terminal can accommodate 13 million international passengers and more aircraft with 20 contact gates and 8 remote stands.

“By the end of the year, Terminal 3 will be fully operational,” said Matibag.

Cebu Pacific, for this year, is targeting to transport 10 million passengers. It is on track at achieving the numbers as it has already recorded a total of 2,442,377 passenger volume for the first quarter of the year, up 23% in the same period a year earlier.

The MIAA oversees the Manila International Airport, Naia Terminal 2 and Terminal 3. The agency recorded a net income of P410 million in the first quarter of the year, higher by 4% compared with the P394 million posted in the same period last year.