Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport
Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport, also known by airport code MNL, serves as the principle aviation center for Manila and surrounding region in the Philippines. The airport is located in the communities of Pasay and Paranaque south of the urban center of Manila and has a long history of service to the region.
History of Manila Airport
Air operations in the area predate World War II although the first facilities at the current location were constructed in 1948. A passenger terminal and runways were constructed for commercial purposes at that time with continual enhancements and upgrades over the years. In 1972 and in 1981, fires damaged terminals, which also prompted new construction.
The airport was known by the name Manila International Airport until 1987 when it was renamed in honor of Benigno Aquino, Jr. He was better known as Ninoy Aquino who served in a number of offices within the Philippine government until his death, by assassination at the airport now named in his honor, in 1983. At the time of his death, he was returning from exile in the United States with the intent of reentering the political arena in his home country.
The roughly 30 million passengers passing through the gates of Ninoy Aquino International Airport utilize four passenger terminals. Terminal 1 is the oldest and dedicated exclusively to international flights. Terminal 2, sometimes called the Centennial Terminal in reference to its dedication as part of the Philippines Centennial year in 1998, provides both international and domestic flight services. The newest terminal, Terminal 3, is the largest terminal and has handled domestic flights since it opened in 2008. Terminal 4 serves regional flights and offers limited capacity. The terminals offer a combined 191 check-in counters and 30 gates.
The terminals at Ninoy Aquino International Airport have a stated capacity of about 30 million people. Passenger traffic at the airport is growing rapidly with numbers doubling between 2004 and 2011. Future expansion at the airport could include another terminal or enlargements and modernizations of the older terminals although financial issues may slow construction.
The cargo terminal at the airport was upgraded in 2007 and is among the most advanced in the region. The facility has the standard secured and bonded storage facilities along with specialized handling facilities for livestock, radioactive materials, and airfreight requiring cold storage. The airport handles about 400,000 tons of airfreight each year.
Arriving and departing aircraft at Ninoy Aquino International Airport utilize one of two runways. The primary runway is 3,700 meters or about 12,000 feet long and has handled the Airbus 380, which is the largest commercial aircraft in the world. The secondary runway is about 1,500 meters shorter and is limited as to the size of aircraft it can accommodate. Both runways are lit and include instrument landing systems. The runways see about 200,000 takeoffs or landings each year.
Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport continues to be one of the busiest in Asia based on passenger numbers, flights, and cargo. However, expansions at the airport have been delayed by financing and even construction accidents. Its most recent terminal addition, the new Terminal 3, took 11 years from groundbreaking to construction completion. The airports ability to handle future passenger traffic, if it continues to grow, could be challenged.