Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Paranaque City, the Philippines.
Plans are afoot to build a new passenger terminal, tentatively known as "Terminal 5", at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Paranaque City, the main gateway of the Philippines. A $12.8-billion airport is also under construction 30 minutes north of Manila. Image Credit: IANS

Manila: Ambitious plans to upgrade the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) with a new terminal, tentatively named “Terminal 5”, were unveiled alongside the opening of a bigger “VIP-class” lounge for departing overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) at Terminal 3, set to open in June.

The new airport terminal is slated to add 35 million passengers per year to the gateway's existing capacity.

Spearheaded by the San Miguel Corp (SMC)-led consortium, tasked with revamping one of the world's ‘worst airports’, the project aims to build the new passenger terminal within the former Philippine Village Hotel complex.

NAIA Airport Terminal 5
Filipino business tycoon Ramon Ang indicated that the construction of NAIA Terminal 5 at a disused hotel complex, might span a minimum of three years. Image Credit: Discover ASEAN

Billionaire Ramon Ang, 70, president and CEO of SMC, revealed key aspects of the NAIA development scheme to spruce up the country’s primary air hub.

The planned new passenger terminal building will have 50 additional boarding bridges. It will be built on the site of the dilapidated hotel, abandoned for decades and has been listed on some sites as one of the spooky “staycation” places in the Philippines.

The mothballed hotel is now back in government hands following a complex, 20-year court battle. Offices at existing NAIA terminal buildings will be asked to transfer to this new facility once constructed.

It is unclear at this point if the existing terminals would be moved to T5 to give way to a third NAIA runway.

$3 billion concession

Following the signing of a $3-billion concession agreement on March 18, Ang said building the new terminal on the site of the disused Philippine Village Hotel would significantly augment airport capacity – and providing parking for approximately 9,000 vehicles.

He indicated that the T5 construction might span a minimum of three years.

Cebu Pacific passenger jets Philippine Village Hotel
Cebu Pacific passenger jets are pictured at the tarmac of Terminal 3 at the Ninoy Aquino International aiport in Pasay city, Metro Manila Philippines April 1, 2016. Following a 20-year court battle, the government regained control of the dilapidated Philippine Village Hotel (see red arrow) in November 2023, previously deemed a security hazard due to its deteriorating condition. Image Credit: Reuters

In efforts to curb road traffic congestion, the consortium plans to build a three-lane Skyway “bypass” from Magallanes to NAIA Terminal 3, along with a two-way lane leading to Pasay City.

In the past, Philippine aviation authorities have proposed that constructing a fifth terminal at the congested NAIA complex would be a more practical solution than building a third runway.

Both Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines are rapidly expanding their fleets, with PAL planning to add 38 aircraft by 2024. PAL expects to add another 22 new Airbus aircraft from 2025 to 2029. Cebu Pacific has signed purchase agreements for up to 100 new Airbus and Boeing aircraft.

Manila Airport NAIA terminal 3 Ninoy Aquino International Airport
The planned new passenger "Terminal 5" of Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) will have 50 boarding bridges.

With NAIA's runway optimisation expected to increase aircraft movements, additional terminal spaces will be necessary, which the T5 may provide.

While expansions to existing terminals may offer temporary relief, however, the pressing need is for the immediate commencement of construction on a new international gateway to meet the future demands of the nation's airlines.

$12.8-billion new Manila airport

Expanding beyond NAIA, Ang revealed SMC's endeavours in advancing a 740-billion-peso ($12.8 billion) airport project in Bulacan, with major developments set to commence in 2025.

Positioned to accommodate overflow passengers from NAIA, the Bulacan airport aims to address constraints posed by NAIA's intersecting runway, which limits the landing capacity to narrow-bodied aircraft.

The tycoon argued for the “complementary” nature of having both NAIA and a Bulacan airport, citing major cities in the world having more than one airport (London has six).

VIP lounge for Overseas Filipino Workers

The consortium has also revealed an expanded VIP lounge dedicated to departing overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) at NAIA Terminal 3.

Originally intended to be smaller, the T3 OFW Lounge is set to open next month (June), with double the size compared to the one originally planned and able to accommodating approximately 200 passengers.

Equipped with “comprehensive amenities”, it aims to provide departing OFWs with a comfortable space to relax before their journeys.