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Flashback: Transport Infrastructure Framework Plan for the Philippines

I was reading an article yesterday about the outgoing NEDA Director General stating that Philippines needing a long term strategy for infrastructure development that will address the shortcomings or gaps due to unsolicited proposals. There was already something like this drafted almost a decade ago and under the auspices of the returning NEDA DG. Unfortunately, while NEDA accepted the Final Report of the study, they never adopted it as a policy that could also be imposed on agencies like the DOTr (still DOTC back then) and the DPWH. So for a sort of Throwback Thursday and on the last day of the Duterte Administration, I am sharing the promotional video produced for the framework plan that was supported by The World Bank.

The study was conducted by Cambridge Systematics (not related to Cambridge Analytics as far as I know) and was implemented at the same time as the JICA Dream Plan study for Mega Manila. I recall there is also a video on the latter and it listed all the infrastructure projects needed to address the transport problems of the Greater Capital Region. The Infra Framework Plan for the country mentions the various infrastructure projects ongoing and proposed for the Philippines but focuses on the soft side (i.e., strategies) including the reforms and institutional set-up that need to be in place for everything to come together and produce the desired outcomes in the long term. Sadly, strategies and plans are not well appreciated despite their being essential as foundations. While the Build, Build, Build mantra of the outgoing administration is worth praising for attempting to do the catch-up needed in as far as certain transport infrastructure is concerned, it falls short of what are necessary and to be prioritized. Instead, it ended up accommodating projects that are “nice to have” but should not be prioritized considering our limited resources and the undesirable foreign debt racked up by government. Hopefully, the returning NEDA DG and other officials will be able to steer the country clear of the current and future crises that may end up bringing more hardships on Filipinos.

Tagbilaran – Panglao Airport Departure

With the recent popularity of my post on the Tagbilaran-Panglao Airport, I was encouraged to write this second part about the airport. Following are photos taken during our departure from Panglao. I took photos from the driveway, the check-in area and the pre-departure area and lounges. I hope this helps my readers including and especially travelers and tourists.

Curbside at the new airport – the area is very spacious and should be able to handle the steadily increasing number of passengers and well-wishers at the airport.

Passengers alight from their vehicles near the Philippine Airlines office at the terminal.

Air Asia ticket office near the terminal curbside

Spacious check-in area – I was just discussing the requirements and standards for check-in counters and frontage to my students this last semester.

Check-in counters for PAL

The check-in counters for Cebu Pacific were crowded when we arrived at the terminal.

Stickers on the floor mark where passengers are supposed to position themselves to comply with health protocols (i.e., social distance).

CebPac has their self check-out portals at the airport for those who have not done their online check-in and to facilitate and expedite check-in procedures.

There’s a separate section for international departures. The airport used to service international flight (before the pandemic). I assume this is where immigration (i.e., passport and visa control) and customs would have been located for International travel.

After checking-in, travelers are greeted by very spacious lounges

This is the ground floor. Visible is the elevator and escalators to the second level pre-departure area for domestic flights. I assume this is a mirror image of the international departures wing.

Unfortunately, there are only two kiosks at the terminal when we were there. One is this stall that sells snacks, sandwiches, instant noodles, and soft drinks and water. There are no souvenir shops or stores for last minute pasalubong shopping.

A view of the tarmac from the lounge

The elevator to the second level lounges and boarding gates.

Stairs and escalators to the second level

One of the boarding gates at the second level

The second level pre-departure area

A look at the ground floor

The other kiosk is by The Bellevue Resort. Their coffee is good but they ran out of food at the time we were there. We thought this was not good considering there were other flights scheduled for the rest of the day and passengers will end up with very limited or no options for meals before their flights.

Another look at the boarding gate and kiosk at the ground level

Another look at the other kiosk at the pre-departure area that sells snacks, light meals and drinks.

Passengers walk towards the tube connecting to aircraft

Bridge connecting the terminal to the aircraft

A PAL plan taking off 

The airport control tower

Baggage being transport for loading unto the aircraft

A family walks to board the awaiting aircraft bound for Manila.

A view of an Air Asia plane that had just arrived and with its passengers just starting to deplane.

This airport is probably one of the better airports in the country now. There is a new airport in Bicol (replacing the old Legazpi Airport) that just started operations recently, which I have yet to visit but is likely better than Panglao in terms of shops and stores. Facilities-wise, this is a modern gateway that should serve the projected number of passengers for Bohol for the next so many years including the expected international operations for the terminal. We are still in the midst of the pandemic but the number of travelers is steadily increasing. And so I wonder how the airport will be once the ‘old normal’ number of visitors return.

They definitely need more shops and stores than the current two kiosks at the airport. They also would need to improve on the ventilation and air-conditioning (it was quite humid inside the airport when we were there – the aircon was not functioning). As a tourist, I am already looking forward to the next trip to Panglao. Hopefully, the airport will be even better on that next trip.

Tagbilaran – Panglao Airport Arrival

The last time we were in Bohol, the airport was still in Tagbilaran City. One had to travel about 45+ minutes if you were staying at a resort in nearby Panglao Island that is part of the province. The old airport was closed (the runway though served as a venue for ) and replaced by a new airport. This one is located in Panglao Island and close to the resorts that are the main attraction of the province.

We deplaned via tube/bridge at the new airport terminal

A photo of the control tower from the bridge

Did the airport terminal architecture take inspiration from Bohol’s famous Chocolate Hills?

The corridors were well lighted, again thanks to the building design.

Our plane at the tarmac or apron unloading luggage and cargo

We arrived at the baggage claim area ahead of most people. The carts were already placed across the conveyor belt by airport staff.

Belt 2 on the other side is for international arrivals. The airport already served international flights before the pandemic. These have yet to resume.

Passengers file unto the baggage claim area to pick up their luggage.

The hallway towards the terminal exit. The toilets are on the left side of the hallway.

The sign indicates international arrivals. The airport currently does not serve international flights but these will likely resume once the pandemic threat is clearly contained. Other airports like Iloilo and Bacolod have also suspended international flights.

The international arrival area at Tagbilaran-Panglao Airport

Airport driveway

Exit towards our destination

A view of the control tower as we headed towards the airport exit gate

The new road connecting to the national road circling Panglao Island, which connects to the local roads leading to the resorts and towns in the island.

It now only takes something like 10 to 15 minutes to many of the resorts in Panglao Island. This is a convenience to tourists. However, the distance from the main island of Bohol (the rest and most of the province) means a longer travel time for Boholanons or Bol-anons to/from their hometowns from/to the airport. This looks to be a non-issue considering the pros of the new airport outweighs its cons.

More on this airport soon!

NAIA Parking Rates as of April 2022

Here’s a quick share of information about the parking rates at the NAIA airport terminals:

The infographic is from the DOTr Facebook Page and should be useful for those picking up people at the airport or who would be leaving their vehicles there as they travel again with the easing of restrictions due to the pandemic.

Flying again – NAIA Terminal 2 Departure

It’s been more than 2 years since the last time I went on a trip via aircraft. We finally decided it was safe to take a brief vacation and to take advantage of the still few tourists heading to resorts out of Manila. Here are a few photos taken at NAIA Terminal 2 as we set out to travel to Panglao Island in Bohol for a much needed break from work and from Covid-19.

Check-in counters at NAIA T2 were already busy when we arrived at the airport

The scene at the terminal lobby was as if there was no pandemic (technically, we aren’t out of the Covid-19 pandemic yet).

Past the final security check and into the pre-departure area

Some sections were less crowded. This section where we had some light lunch as we waited for our gate to be announced was usually reserved for international flights. Here were gates for US destinations and it was spacious because of the number of passengers and the gauntlet-like security checks required for US-bound passengers.

Our boarding gate for our flight to Tagbilaran-Panglao Airport

Passengers waiting for their boarding calls near our gate

We can only imagine how much more crowded this terminal could still be once we go back to “normal” or pre-pandemic travel conditions. It is good to see at least most passengers wearing masks. All adults at least were wearing masks and only small children and infants weren’t. We also hope that airport terminal staff do their part in ensuring the facilities were disinfected regularly so as to minimize the risk of Covid-19 and other infections.

Another goodbye jumbo?

With the phaseout of the Boeing 747, there was much expectation for what was supposed to be its successor in the Airbus A380. The latter was hailed as the worthy successor to what was probably the most popular and versatile plane in the B747. Unfortunately, after so many orders for the A380 were delivered and the plane being deployed by major airlines along the long-haul routes, it is now being reconsidered. Here’s a nice article on what is perceived as the decline of such supersized aircraft.

Alexander, K (October 22, 2021) “3 Reasons Behind the Premature Demise of the Airbus A380,” Medium, https://kevinaalexander.medium.com/analyzing-the-premature-demise-of-the-airbus-a380-c56d50ec827d [Last accessed: 1/5/2022]

A model A380

Traveling abroad soon?

I miss traveling, particularly overseas. My last travels abroad were to Sri Lanka in September 2019 and to Singapore in December 2019. My long travels within the Philippines was to Zamboanga in January 2020 and Cebu in February the same year. We were supposed to go back to Zamboanga to do some field work in March 2020 but the trip was canceled when the first lockdowns were enforced. I was supposed to travel to Hiroshima last September 2021 for a conference that we highly anticipated partly because of the opportunity to go to Japan again and do another sentimental trip to certain places in that country, including taking the Shinkansen and other trains to go around.

Recently, the US reopened to international travelers and friends have already crossed the Pacific to be with family/relatives there. Here is an article from The New York Times about what you need to know when traveling to the US; including vaccinations:

NY Times article about the basics of traveling to the US

On the Boeing 747

We deviate from our usual topics that are mostly about land transportation to something about air transportation:

Waldek, S. (February 10, 2021) “How the Boeing 747 Changed the Way Airplanes are Designed,” Architectural Digest, https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/how-boeing-747-changed-way-airplanes-designed?utm_source=nl&utm_brand=spotlight-nl&utm_campaign=aud-dev&utm_mailing=thematic_spotlight_021021_2&utm_medium=email&bxid=5bd6761b3f92a41245dde413&cndid=37243643&hasha=cf6c402001bc473063a8744033fe9be3&hashb=ec2bb753c2e6299f5107823241955221da67bd1f&hashc=09f65c608bfb62050199733de500e3cd82827631b36d537ce8386d41a3bd1ff7&esrc=FYL_SEG_APR18&sourcecode=thematic_spotlight&utm_term=Thematic_Spotlight [Last accessed: 2/14/2021]

My first flight on the Boeing 747 was back in 1996 when I first traveled overseas to Tokyo. I was booked on a Northwest Airlines (NWA) flight and the airline used B747’s on the regular flights between Manila and Narita. Later, I was on another Northwest Airways, JAL and Korean Air B747’s for homecoming trips and a trip to Seoul. While in Japan, I usually took the Shinkansen for long distance domestic trips. I even had the chance to ride Pakistan Air’s B747 that was a half passenger, half freighter plane. The flight between Narita and Karachi in the 1990s had a stopover in Manila that meant cheap tickets between Manila and Narita (also because passenger demand for the airline was not as high since PAL, JAL and NWA were the airlines of choice between MNL and NRT. I was even upgraded to Business Class en route to Narita the only time I flew on PIA in 1998.

Here’s a model of a Delta B747-400 we got from one of our trips. Delta acquired Northwest and its flights to Asia.

On airline travel in the time of Covid-19

I haven’t been on a plane since February 2020. That is almost one year next month. I have friends though who have traveled by air recently. They had to follow certain protocols before departing and upon arrival at their destination. These include testing for the virus and observing quarantine especially upon their return to Metro Manila and prior to returning to their respective homes. Fortunately, all have been testing negative for Covid-19 and were able to come home safely.

Here is an interesting article on air travel, particularly how airlines and airports are handling passengers during this time when processes need to consider the prospects of getting infected by Covid-19:

Marshall, A. (January 21, 2021) “The Art and Science of Boarding an Airplane in a Pandemic,” Wired, https://www.wired.com/story/art-science-boarding-airplane-pandemic/ [Last accessed: 1/26/2021]

I am anxious about being required to travel for a project we are currently doing for a major city in Mindanao. While our clients have been very understanding about our health concerns, it might be inevitable for some of us in the project team to travel by March 2021 to present the findings and recommendations of our study. I will continue to update myself about travel guidelines in preparation for that likely travel.

On the DOTr Guidelines for Public Transport – Aviation Sector

Here are the guidelines for the Aviation Sector. My only comment here is that many people are anxious about when they can travel again, particularly to other parts of the country mainly for business or to go home (e.g., many students have been stranded in the cities where they go to school and away from their hometowns). Part of this anxiety is the thinking that airfares will increase significantly as airlines are forced to reduce capacities for their aircraft to adhere to physical distancing guidelines. Gone, probably, are the discount fares like the Piso fare promos.

Related to this, I have received emails from 4 airlines I frequently used – Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Japan Airlines. All provided updates on their respective efforts to ensure the future air travel will be safe, health-wise. As for the airport terminals, that’s another story…