PASAY CITY, 14 July 2023 – Passenger volume and flight movement at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) showed an upward trend in the first half of this year.
The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) recorded a total of 22,221,933 international and domestic passengers from January to June 2023, an increase of 78% versus the same period last year and only 8% lower than the pre-pandemic level in 2019. Flight movements, on the other hand, registered at 135,883, up by 42% for the same period in 2022 and equivalent to 100% of the flights handled at NAIA in the first half of 2019.
“We are pleased to experience these surges in statistics—a strong indication that passengers have regained the confidence to travel again. The double-digit surge in our flight movements and passenger volume is enough ground for optimism that the aviation industry is steadily heading towards full recovery,” said MIAA Officer-in-Charge Bryan Co.
When comparing the first two quarters of this year, the 11,357,156 passengers who flew from and to NAIA from April to June indicate a 5% growth over the 10,864,777 passenger volume in the first quarter. MIAA also saw an uptick of 2% in flight movement, with 68,689 flights handled in the second quarter of this year, up from 67,194 flights handled from January to March of this year.
Moreover, looking closely at this year’s international and domestic figures, there was a notable boost in international passengers in June at 1,752,098, accounting for 82% of June 2019’s figures, compared to January’s international foot traffic, equivalent to 74% of January 2019’s tally. Meanwhile, domestic operations in the first half of 2023 have demonstrated consistent strength, outperforming the flight movement and passenger volume of the same period in 2019.
“Comforted with the consistent growth in numbers, with airlines introducing new routes, and with new airline players coming in, we will pursue without let-up our improvement projects, especially those that would highly impact the passenger experience inside and outside of the terminals,” Co said.
MIAA recently completed its Schedule and Terminal Assignment Rationalization, or STAR program, aimed at optimizing the capacity of the four NAIA terminals. The STAR program entailed the reassignment of some international airlines from NAIA Terminal 1 to NAIA Terminal 3 and the moving all Philippine Airlines (PAL) international flights to NAIA Terminal 1.
This strategy paved the way for confining international flight operations to only NAIA Terminals 1 and 3, while NAIA Terminal 2 became a purely domestic terminal, together with NAIA Terminal 4, which caters to turboprop operations. This also benefitted partner agencies like the Bureau of Immigration (BI), Bureau of Customs (BOC), and Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), as their NAIA Terminal 2 personnel are now re-deployed to NAIA Terminals 1 and 3, thereby ensuring full manning of their counters in the two terminals.
With NAIA Terminal 2 now servicing all domestic flights of PAL, AirAsia Philippines, and Royal Air Philippines, it can now accommodate up to 10 million passengers per annum from its design capacity of 7.5 million passengers per year. The removal of immigration counters and other infrastructure mandated for international flight operations provided the needed space for unhampered passenger movement inside the terminal.
While domestic AirAsia and Royal Air passengers, who account for around 10,000 passengers per day on average, now have more space at NAIA Terminal 2. This change also reduces congestion at NAIA Terminal 4 by 75%, providing adequate space for Cebgo, AirSwift, and Sunlight Air passengers.
The implementation of the STAR program necessarily brought an increased number of passengers to NAIA Terminal 3, reason why MIAA stayed true to its commitment to the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to expand their work area in the terminal.
From the 26 immigration counters at the start of 2023, MIAA has successfully added 18 more counters, placing the number to date at 44 departure immigration counters for NAIA Terminal 3. By the end of 2023, MIAA hopes to further deliver on its commitment to complete the construction of an immigration annex adjacent to BI’s existing location at the departure level.
Once in place, an additional 24 counters will become available to service OFWs, senior citizens, differently/specially abled persons, pregnant women, diplomats, or other passengers who need special handling.