This year, the Urban Roamer has finally accomplished an important personal milestone: to have visited all 4 terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
It was a culmination of an air travel experience which began, incidentally, ten years ago when I flew to Boracay out of Terminal 4, AKA the Domestic Airport. It was pre-Urban Roamer so I haven’t really written something about it. And frankly, there was (and still is) not much to write about it anyway., Then in 2010, my flight to Hong Kong provided an opportunity to check out the then quite new Terminal 3, which I got to write about. Then early in March, a flight to Singapore became an opportunity to write about Terminal 1.
Then about a few months ago, a trip to Mindanao found this roamer not only get the rare opportunity to take a Philippine Airlines flight, but also an opportunity to finally go inside Terminal 2. And naturally, it deserves a write-up.
NAIA Terminal 2 was conceived as part of a study conducted in 1989 by the Aéroports de Paris, the French firm that manages Paris’ airports, including the gateway airport Charles De Gaulle Airport.. In particular, the firm recommended the construction of two new terminals to accommodate the growing number of passengers passing through the country’s premier gateway. So with a loan from the French government, work began on what would be the first expansion of the airport, to be built just a few blocks away from the original NAIA Terminal, which would become known retroactively as Terminal 1. Japan also provided the loan to help proceed with the the construction.
There were delays in the construction but by 1998, the new terminal building, AKA Terminal 2, of the airport was done though not yet fully operational. Given that 1998 was also the year of the country’s centennial of the declaration of independence from Spain, it was also called the Centennial Terminal. The terminal would commence operations the following year.
The original plan was for Terminal 2 to be the hub for domestic flights, replacing the old and small Domestic Airport, now known as Terminal 4. However, Philippine Airlines (PAL) came into the picture and after “negotiations”, Terminal 2 became Philippine Airlines’ exclusive hub at NAIA for most of its domestic and international flights.
Architecture-wise, it bears similarities to Terminal 3, especially with the use of glass that allowed for greater use of natural light. I can imagine how Terminal 2 when it was first unveiled was seen as a “radical departure” to the “brutalist” concrete look of Leandro Locsin’s NAIA.
Another unique thing about Terminal 2 is that it is not one continuous structure unlike Terminal 1 or even Terminal 3. The boomerang layout of the building was somewhat a way to divide it in half. Philippine Airlines utilized this division by assigning the northern wing for its international flights while the southern wing is for domestic flights. Thus, for passengers who are used to Terminals 1 and 3 may find Terminal 2 a bit cramped.
It is still a nice terminal though and the new developments will hopefully get more people to appreciate this part of the airport beyond the PAL fliers. While it is not as big as its other terminals, it is an efficiently-designed airport terminal that for a time helped serve the growing needs of a Manila airport.
There were reports that there will be a reassignment of flights such that PAL’s international operations would be moved to Terminal 1 and Cebu Pacific’s domestic operations would be moved to Terminal 2. Thus it would realize the original vision of Terminal 2 being a domestic airport.
However, the Manila International Airport Authority has denied there will be such plans. Instead, the plans are instead to move some flights out of Terminal 2 because there are plans to renovate the terminal building, making it “roomier” to accommodate the many people coming in and out of the terminal.
Check out the report below for the lowdown.
N.B. Despite being a stones’ throw away from each other, NAIA Terminal 1 falls under the jurisdiction of Parañaque while Terminal 2 is under Pasay’s. Boundaries are weird like that.
Acknowledgements as well to Wikipedia