I’ve been to Metro Manila’s airport terminals quite frequently lately. It’s only March but I’ve traveled to Singapore twice, once using NAIA Terminal 2 for a Philippine Airlines flight in January, and again last February but using Terminal 3 for a Cebu Pacific flight. I’ve gone to Terminal 1 several times as I either dropped off or fetched the wife who flew in and out via either Singapore Airlines or Tiger Airways. Every time I went to any of the three airports, and especially when I was fetching someone, I couldn’t help but make some observations about the parking.
I’ve been to many airports including the huge modern ones in our neighboring countries. I must admit that I haven’t had the chance of using their parking facilities first hand. Most of the time I use public transportation from and to the terminals like when I use Changi or Suvarnabhumi. I have seen their parking buildings from the outside though. And I can say that my impression is that they are sufficient for their purpose whether their users be well wishers, people fetching relatives or friends, or travelers opting to leave their vehicles to return for them on their ways back.
I must say that the parking facilities of the three NAIA terminals can be viewed as a progressive case considering that there have been steady and obvious improvements when comparing features from Terminal 1 to 3. I won’t get into the technical aspects as qualitative assessment from fellow users like friends and colleagues point out that NAIA 1’s parking seem to be always full as with Terminal 2’s. The latter is quite unusual as it is used exclusively by PAL. Terminal 3 should have the largest capacity and this was expected for a terminal whose designers should have learned from the lessons of Terminals 1 and 2. However, in my recent trips to all three airports, my experiences have been quite the contrary in terms of finding a parking slot that is convenient enough; that is, not so far a walk from the respective terminal buildings.
It was surprising for me to find good parking slots in my most recent trips to NAIA 1 and 2. Meanwhile, parking at Terminal 3 seemed to be laborious especially considering the linear layout of the open parking facility. In that last sentence, allow me to emphasize open and add to it “outdoor” since Terminal 3 is supposed to have a multi-level parking building. This was supposed to be one of its features distinguishing it from 1 and 2. The problem is that airport officials have not given the go signal for this multi-level facility to be operational. This causes problems to airport users considering that there is a significant number of vehicles left by their owners for their return trips. These include overnight parkers who probably took a local trip with a schedule that prevented them from returning the same day. All these vehicles are parked along what should be a lane dedicated for traffic circulation. In fact, the line of parked vehicles extend all the way to the ramp leading to the entrance to the parking building.
Perhaps it is already time to open the parking building to the general public. It doesn’t take a genius to see that parking at NAIA 3 is already insufficient given the travel characteristics of its users. Operational costs including maintenance and security should not be a problem since users will be charged fees according to their parking durations. Also, a variety of services may be offered to users including cleaning like the ones offered in shopping malls and even quick repairs for those encountering some trouble with their engines or tires. It shouldn’t be so difficult to come up with a system for parking management that would enhance NAIA 3’s services. And it should be done now and not later.
I have other impressions of parking in the other terminals I have had the opportunity to use across the country including those of international airport in Mactan, Cebu and Davao. But these terminals do not generally serve as many people as Manila’s three terminals do so their assessments would have to be tempered against this backdrop.