At last, after six years of dispute following its supposed opening in 2002, Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 officially opened to public. Cebu Pacific flights from Manila to Boracay (Caticlan), Laoag, Naga, San Jose (Mindoro), and Tuguegarao took off from the newly-opened terminal Tuesday, July 22.
NAIA 3 initially accommodates five flights of Cebu Pacific for the day and will start accommodating other local airlines such as Air Philippines and Philippine Airlines (PAL) Express starting July 24.
Seated on a 63.5-hectare of Villamor Air Base, the terminal is the largest and most advanced airport in the country, capable of servicing 33,000 passengers daily at peak or 6,000 passengers per hour. The airport building has a floor area of 182,500 square meters spanning to a length of 1.2 kilometers. It has a 4-level shopping mall that connects the terminal and parking buildings. The parking building has a capacity of 2,000 cars while the outdoor parking area has a capacity of 1,200 cars.
The opening of the airport will help solve the problem of old and crowded airports by accommodating the growing number of air traffic passengers to and from Manila. It can be recalled that the NAIA-3 project was awarded by the government to PIATCO in 1996, construction started in 1997. The 2002 opening was delayed after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared that the government would not honor its contract with PIATCO after allegedly having been anomalous in certain important aspects. The Supreme Court ruled in the government’s favor but said the projects proponents have to be compensated. As negotiations dragged on, the government took over NAIA-3 in December 2004.