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Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, Philippines

Key Data

Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) is situated in the Clark Special Economic Zone (CSEZ – a free port) of the Philippines near Angeles City on Luzon Island.

The airport was developed from the old US Clark Airbase (33,653ha) which was closed in 1991 when the US left following the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, which led to the area of the base being strewn with debris and lava. The old airbase was cleaned up in the following two years and in 1993 the CSEZ was opened in its place on the site with DMIA airport at the centre.

The old air force base has formed an exceptional basis for an international airport with two identical concrete parallel runways (02R/20L and 02L/20R) both 10,500ft, 3,200m long and able to accept the majority of commercial aircraft. The A380 landed here on a test flight in October 2007 and the airport during its previous use as an airbase was designated as an alternate landing strip for the space shuttle.

The airport is 85km north west of the capital Manila, which is still within the required catchment to be a useful airport for business use (the road infrastructure around the airport has been improved with the 21bn-peso Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) completed in March 2008). There are plans to establish a rail link to the airport through Metro Manila.

DMIA has been put forward as a possible alternative to take over from Ninoy Aquino International Airport but whether it will remains to be seen (this has been predicted over the next ten years since Ninoy Aquino has limited space for expansion). The DMIA is administered and operated by the Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC). In March 2008 the airport won the Frost and Sullivan award for 'Airport of the Year' for facilities accepting less than 15 million passengers a year.

DMIA improvements

CIAC signed an agreement with The Asia Foundation (TAF) to develop strategic plans to improve the airport to make it a service and logistics hub in the country. USA and China are also planning to support the future development of the airport.

The terminal building at DMIA can currently handle around 500,000 passengers a year (figures show 533,619 passengers in 2007). In 2003 the CIAC board gave their approval to a master plan (put together by the Korean International Cooperation Agency and costing $2m) to develop the airport to its full potential over the period to 2025.

The initial plan was expand the current terminal building (first phase expansion) so that it can accept around two million passengers a year (project costing 130m pesos). This project began in 2006 and was completed at the end of January 2008. The second phase of the project will be the construction of the new Premier Gateway Terminal (starting construction in April 2008) which will allow the airport to handle five million passengers in total.

The terminal expansion was completed and inaugurated in June 2011. With the completion of the expansion, the airport can now accommodate around 2.7 million passengers a year. At this point both of the runways are to be extended to 4,000m (the airport hopes to become a hub for A380 travel). The development of the airport is expected to cost a total of 56.5bn pesos ($1.7bn).

In September 2008 Admiral Energy (based in Chicago, US) was awarded the contract to construct and operate the new T2 premier gateway terminal. Admiral is currently undergoing the final eligibility tests but has agreed to pay $2.3m as an upfront remittance and then a total investment of $268m (Admiral will use local construction companies to complete the terminal).

Radar developments

The terminal radar approach control (TRACON) project was first started at DMIA in September 2005 and due to cost cutting and budget over-runs was not completed. This was needed to bring the airport into compliance with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards.

"Diosdado Macapagal International Airport is 85km northwest of the capital Manila."

The project was finally completed in April 2007. The TRACON facility cost $9.3m (a 15-year loan from Deutsche Bank) and moves DMIA into the position of having the most modern system in the country.

The radar system, which can operate in all weathers, can detect incoming and outgoing aircraft in a radius of 60nm to 220nm of the airport. This means that the airport is no longer reliant on the radar system of its rival Ninoy Aquino International.

The system was installed by SELEX of Italy who also had to upgrade parts of the CIAC buildings in order to install the new console display. DMIA also has all other necessary systems including: instrument landing system, Doppler VHF omni-directional range, primary and secondary surveillance radar, non-directional beacon, airfield ground lighting system and a precision approach path indicator (PAPI).

Gate Gourmet facilities

Gate Gourmet and Miascor have invested $3m at DMIA to construct an in-flight catering service facility. The new facility will be able to prepare over 4,000 meals a day for the airlines operating from the airport. This development shows promise in that it anticipates an increase in long haul flights from the airport over the next few years.

Building for the new facility started in March 2007. It is being constructed on a 3,000m² site adjacent to the CIAC headquarters. The construction work was undertaken by Philippine Sundt Construction and completed in the first quarter of 2008.

Other DMIA projects

Philippine Airlines negotiated a deal at the end of 2007 with CAIC to invest $50m in the construction of maintenance, catering and ground handling facilities at DMIA. The deal was closed by the end of the first quarter of 2008 and the facilities will now be constructed concurrently with the airport's second phase of expansion.

Philippine Airlines would like to use the airport as a hub to fly to Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau, Bangkok and also Taipei. The Philippine government has also improved the viability of the airport by relaxing rules on foreign budget carriers using the airport as a stopover point to other Asian countries.

"DMIA has been put forward as a possible alternative to take over from Ninoy Aquino International Airport."

In April 2008 two projects were agreed with contractors as part of phase two. The first was the Global Gateway logistics park, which will be located at Industrial Estate 5 on a 125ha site and will be developed by Kuwait Gulf and Link (KGL) for an investment of $25m. In addition a new 10ha maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility is being set up to service wide-bodied and narrow-bodied aircraft. The company responsible for the MRO will be the Singapore Airlines Engineering Company (SIAEC).

Diosado Macapagal master plan

The 2025 master plan puts forward far-reaching plans for the construction of a Y-shaped passenger terminal with 126 air bridges (19 for the A380).

In addition there will be an X-shaped satellite concourse with 79 air bridges (12 for the A380) and also a midfield air traffic control tower. A third parallel runway is planned along with new taxiways and aprons and a new cargo terminal complex.

The airport infrastructure being increased to this level will allow an estimated 40 million passengers a year to use the airport. The master plan also puts forward plans for an automatic people mover, a ground transportation centre, a new two-line rail system for the airport and commuters to Manila and additional road infrastructure leading to the Subic-Clark Tarlac Expressway.

In the final phases of the airport development in 2025, there could be a total of 145 frontal gates, 134 remote gates and four runways. The facility will then be able to handle an annual total of 110 million passengers. These impressive plans will potentially lead to the airport becoming a major hub in Asia.

Diosdado Macapagal International Airport is on Luzon Island and could become a major hub in Asia.
Philippines Airlines has a modern fleet and would like to make DMIA its hub.
The position of Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, in the CSEZ.
The old air force base has formed an exceptional basis for an international airport with two identical concrete parallel runways able to accept the majority of commercial aircraft.
The old air traffic control tower of DMIA can be seen in the background this is being replaced as part of the $1.7bn master plan.
A Philippine Airlines A319 being serviced. If the $50m deal goes through this could be the scene at DMIA.