MANILA – The Filipino pilot who successfully landed the world's largest passenger aircraft at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for the first time believes that the historic event will help improve the negative perception on the Manila airport.
Captain Franklyn Mallari Desiderio piloted the Emirates Airbus A380 from Dubai to Manila Tuesday night to celebrate the airline’s move to the NAIA-Terminal 3.
President Aquino himself welcomed the arrival of the aircraft and officials of Emirates Airline.
"We did well on approach, the landing was really nice," the 41-year-old pilot said.
"There's so much skepticism that Manila cannot accept the A380 into this airport. By doing this flight, on the approach, on the runway, on the landing and taxiway, I would say that Manila is capable."
Desiderio is the first Filipino pilot certified to fly the Airbus A380, a double decker jumbo jet that can seat more than 500 passengers.
He manned his first flight when he was only 16 years old, and has served as a commercial airline pilot for 18 years.
His first commercial flight, flying a Fokker-50 aircraft, was a roundtrip from Manila-Catarman in 1997.
"It takes a little bit of time before you get into the 380. I always tell young pilots around the world, just keep on studying," he said.
The plane, which is 50 percent bigger than the Boeing 747, features an onboard lounge, shower spa and 14 first class suites.
The landing of the Airbus A380 is only a one-time event, but there is a possibility of a return if there is passenger demand.
Emirates transferred its operations to the NAIA-3 in September in efforts to decongest the NAIA-Terminal 1.
"Terminal 3 is state-of-the-art, it gives much better passenger access and flows. It’s a more efficient airport," Emirates divisional SVP Barry Brown said. -- With a report from Zen Hernandez, ABS-CBN News