This is one of the peak periods for air travel in the Philippines so the airports are pretty full with people departing and arriving from different places here and abroad. It was early morning yesterday and as I approached at the airport, I could see lots of vehicles driving off from the departure level of the terminal including taxis that have ferried passengers mainly for morning flights. It was about 4:30 AM when I arrived so the terminal was not as busy as it would be a few hours later.
I had some time to burn yesterday as I waited for the arrival of my wife at NAIA’s Terminal 3. And so I decided to take a walk around the terminal to check out the restaurants and coffee shops on the 3rd level. It turned out my favorite place was still closed and I didn’t think pizza, burgers or fried chicken would be a good idea at the time. I ended up walking around the terminal to get some exercise early in the morning and taking a few photos here and there of the queues at the check-in counters.
Cebu Pacific handles a lot of flights nowadays as the top airline in the Philippines though it is a budget airline. At 4:30 AM, there were a lot of people lined up in front of their counters assigned to domestic flights. There were a lot more outside the cordoned off area and also outside the airport queued before the first security check for the terminal.
There were even more people on the other side as Ceb Pac handled quite a number of flights to favorite destinations such as Caticlan (gateway to Boracay), Tagbilaran (gateway to Panglao) and Puerto Princesa (Palawan). Of course, there were the frequent flights to hubs like Cebu, Davao and Iloilo.
AirPhil Express (formerly Air Philippines) also operates out of Terminal 3 but has less flights compared to CebPac. Its mother company, Philippine Airlines (PAL), is a full service airline with domestic and international flights to and from Terminal 2, which is also called the Centennial Terminal after being opened during the Philippines’ Independence Centennial in 1998. PAL Express, another one of PAL’s budget spin-offs, used to operate out of T3 but ceased operations in 2010 and was integrated into AirPhil Express.
The queues for CebPac’s international flights were still short. I think they have few flights during the late night to early morning periods. These counters, however, will be busy later in the day considering the frequencies of service to destinations like Singapore, Hongkong and Bangkok. CebPac also flies to Korea, China and Japan and has recently opened direct flights to Cambodia (Siem Reap) and Vietnam (Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh).
I was not able to take a photo of the counters assigned to All Nippon Airways (ANA). I guess there might be no people there yet as ANA operates only two flights daily between Manila and Narita (from where it connects with a lot of flights to many other destinations including major cities in the US and Europe). Terminal 3 will be busier in the coming months and years as international flights increase and the Philippines tries to have its status upgraded in order for airlines such as CebPac to expand operations. Already in the sights of the airline are destinations in the Middle East, Australia and the US where there is a demand for a low cost Philippine carrier even counting only Filipinos living abroad. And with the country pitching its tourist destinations abroad, T3 will be expected to handle much of the traffic in this gateway in Manila.