Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Airports in the Philippines

I've been to a number of local airports from Laoag, Ilocos Norte in the north down to Davao City in the south and I want to qualitatively rank my favorites or at least why I like them. Airports mainly serve as a gateway to a destination, in other words visitors will base their first impression of a place on what they see from the moment they deplane.

*Most Beautiful Airport Terminal: "New" Iloilo Airport
-Obviously the new airport is well designed and I like the touch of its indoor pocket gardens (the outdoor gardens are also beautiful). The aerobridge design is reminiscent of the ones in Hong Kong International as passengers walk separate levels for arrival and departure.

*Most Accessible Airports: Puerto Princesa Airport and "Old" Bacolod Airport
-They are both in the city center and accessible through the main highway. All you have to do is get out the terminal building and hail a taxi, jeep or tricycle.

*Most Picturesque Airport: Legazpi Airport (Albay)
-With Mayon volcano spewing smoke in its background, nothing comes close. I spent an hour at the passenger's lounge just staring at Mayon.

*Cute Airports: Roxas Airport (Capiz) & Dumaguete Airport (Negros Oriental)
-They are compact (small) airports with buildings just like a typical house in a province with jalousie windows :) Nevertheless, they serve their main purpose.

*Airport With the Best Entertainment: Tagbilaran Airport (Bohol)
-While waiting for your flight at the compact departure lounge, a band who are members of an association for the blind will entertain you until your ontime/delayed flight arrives. They automatically stop when there's an announcement from the paging system, hehehe.

*Best View During Landing: Lumbia Airport (Cagayan de Oro) & Tacloban Airport
-As the airport and runway are on top of a hill 600 feet above sea level surrounding by a mountain range it looks like you are landing on the middle of a valley. On approach you can also see up close the paradise island of Camiguin. As for Daniel Romualdez Airport in Tacloban, I like its location as the runway is literally on a beach.

*Airport With a Touch of "Native" Flare: Loakan Airport (Baguio City)
-The facade of the Philippines' highest airport at 4,251 feet above sea level is just like any other old airport here in the Philippines but upon entering its terminal one will notice its shiny pine wood floors including its walls and ceilings. One can even smell the pinewood as if you are inside a log cabin at Camp John Hay. The tarmac is higher than the terminal building itself so it looks like that it sank from its foundation.

Baguio Loakan Airport

*Most Overworked Airport: Mandurriao Airport (Iloilo) & Caticlan Airport (Boracay)
-The already closed airport in Iloilo which was replaced by a new airport in the town of Cabatuan just can't cope with the growing passenger traffic. It is the 4th busiest overall and the busiest among non-international airports. It is common to see 4 aircraft parked at the same time on the small tarmac. This airport has a sentimental value in my life as I once entered and exited its doors for more than 30x. I miss this airport as it is just a neighbor of SM City Iloilo unlike the new airport which is far from the city.

-As for Caticlan, at least 6 airlines operate more than 40 flights a day in and out in this small sunrise-to-sunset airport. Hands off to Caticlan.

*My 4 Favorite Philippine Airports:
1. Francisco Bangoy International Airport (Davao City)
-I just love this simple airport. It's very efficient from the moment you enter until you board your plane. For the comfort of passengers, the departure lounge is carpeted with good non-metal seats (I hate metal seats in airports!).

2. "New" Iloilo Airport
-Aside from its new and beautiful you can have a decent meal from the foodshop and bakeshop at the departure lounge even for a backpacker's budget. I only spent about 90-100 pesos for a rice meal with 1 viand, C2 tea drink and leche flan. No other domestic airports I have been to offered that kind of choices for only 100 pesos. There are plans to increase the terminal fee from 30 to 150 pesos and even if it becomes 150 pesos it is still a bargain compared to the 200 pesos at the Manila Domestic terminal which I think is an extortion with consent.

3. Mactan International Airport (Cebu)
-It's better (in most ways) than the three airport terminals in Manila, period.

4. Loakan Airport (Baguio)
-It's just so cute. This airport in the middle of Barangay Loakan may also be the Philippines' widest pedestrian lane as residents and vehicles can cross the runway freely when there are no flights coming to go to the other side of town. Additionally, the view of Baguio City immediately after takeoff is breathtaking.


chYmera said...

Just want to ask where and what year you got the data for the airport traffic data when you said that Caticlan Airport is the 4th busiest airport overall. As far as I've confirmed back in 2005, the Iloilo Airport was the 4th highest in the country in terms of visitor arrivals and cargo traffic while Caticlan airport was the 4th highest in number of flights (due to smaller planes servicing the airport). I'm not updated with the 2006 and 2007 levels so, I'm interested in finding out.

Thanks ^_^

kegler747 said...

@ Chymera: According to my post, the 4th busiest airport in the Philippines is Iloilo (specifically Mandurriao) and not Caticlan.

chYmera said...

Oh, ok. BTW, love your travel pictures ...drool ^_^

kegler747 said...

@ chymera: Thanks for the compliment. BTW, what's your blog address? All I can find are already dormant.

chYmera said...

its ambot-ah.com

travelphilippines said...

can't wait to check out the new Iloilo airport.

kegler747 said...

@ travelphilippines: I hope they will maintain very well the new airport.

Lawstude said...

nice collection carlo. you really have been around. the next time i travel, ill pay more attention to airports. never really noticed them the way you do. great thoughts. love it.

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ChichaJo said...

Have you seen the Zamboanga City airport? I think it's great...cute with a touch of "native flair" :)

kegler747 said...

@ lawstude: U'll either love or hate airports, there are airports that I hate and some that I love :)

kegler747 said...

@ chichajo: I haven't yet been to Zamboanga, I have plans to go there soon because I would love to go to Basilan :)

the donG said...

i personally like the native look of Zamboanga's airport. it's better than the one in Cagayan although it's not air conditioned but it feels comfortable when you're in there.

my personal favorite is also the NAIA terminal 2, making me choose PAL or Airphil when i travel on peak season.

another favorite is that of Mactan. organized and it has a good system. it needs to be. hehehe...

i've seen butuan's airport. it's small and when we were there, the xray machine is for repair so they did manual inspection (they opened all the bags...).

Cagayan de Oro airport indeed has a nice view as it passes by nice villages and golf course on top of a hill.

Tacloban's airport is just a typical airport.

I never saw the new airports of Davao, Iloilo and Bacolod yet. Looking forward to that.

Galing ng review mo ng mga airport.

kegler747 said...

@ the dong: Zamboanga is definitely in my list of which provinces to visit next.

Thanks for the mini review of Philippine airports :)

Anonymous said...

hey, thanks for the information.. seems like you know the airports really well..

and in regards, i want to ask you something pls.. bcoz i will arriving manila early in the morning around 4 a.m. via philippine airlines..

so, i just wondering if you know a passenger arrival lounge wherein i can stay for hours while waiting for someone to pick me up.

fyi, i am travelling via economy class only..

hope to hear from u... thanks in advance =)


kegler747 said...

Hi Janice!

Regarding your question... you can always stay for hours at the passenger arrival terminal, all the Philippine Airlines airport can offer is a seat while you wait. There are no lounge for arriving passengers. Don't worry, everything would be fine there even if you would wait for a few hours, just bring a good book to read.

mtan said...

I'd add Zamboanga to the airport with native flair, and proximity to the city. I've walked from the airport to the hotel, it's right across the road, and to the main city, it's a ten minute trike ride.

The Jolo airport is rather large for a town of that size. Not particularly attractive, rather pragmatic.

As for aiport tarmacs, have you seen the GenSan one? The last time I was there was in 2000, but even then, it was a heck of a long tarmac/runway. Built with US govt money, very long, very smooth. Airport was at least 40 minutes outside of town though.

And Dumaguete's airport runway ends in the sea! the runway sort of scares me!!! One misstep on the pilot's part and the plane could end up nose down in the water.

kegler747 said...

@ mtan: I never been to Zamboanga. Because of your description I'm now eager to get there :)

The scariest landing/takeoff for me is at Loakan Airport in Baguio as you can end up at the foot of a mountain :)

jorp said...

The first time I landed at CDO airport, I was really scared lol

jorp said...

by the way, the OLD ILOILO airport can also make it to the most ACCESSIBLE list but can also top the UGLIEST category hahaha. good thing we now have a new airport which can also be part of the MOST UNACCESSIBLE airports