Airports are transportation centers used for the landing and takeoff of aircraft. Airports provide transportation not only for people but also for freight, such as mail, perishable foods, and other important items. Airports are among the busiest transportation centers. The business they create is vital to the world economy and individual national economies.
An airport is composed of several areas and structures that are designed to serve the needs of both aircraft and passengers. Runways are the long, narrow areas where airplanes take off and land. Taxiways are paths that aircraft follow from the runways to the terminal building, where passengers board and exit aircraft at areas called gates located within the terminal. The terminal also contains ticket and baggage counters. The control tower is located near the terminal. From this tower, people involved in air traffic control coordinate aircraft movement both in the air and on the ground. Maintenance and refueling facilities for aircraft are located near the runways or in nearby hangars. For security purposes, access to major airports is usually limited to special roads. Many airports have large automobile parking areas or multistory ramps to accommodate travelers.
For an efficient transport, airport operations are assessed in the following four general areas:
A. Aircraft Services. Aircraft services focus on the flight, maintenance, and refueling of aircraft at the airport, as well as on air traffic control around the airport.
B. Passenger Services. Passenger services are centered in the terminal building, where passengers purchase tickets, load and retrieve baggage, and enter and exit aircraft.
C. Freight Services. Freight services provide easy conveyance and storage of cargos in and out of the aircrafts with the use of trucks, pallets, movers and containers.
D. Support Services. Support services include restaurants, lounges, car rental agencies, banking services, newsstands, and other retail establishments, observation stations, currency exchanges, a post office, chapels and short-term or long-term parking areas.
This part of the exam tries to examine and compare a foreign international airport, Hong Kong International Airport, with the local one, Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The comparison is based on the aforementioned four general areas in which the facilities required for each service will be identified.
Hong Kong International Airport
Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) is the convergence point of passenger, cargo, capital and information flow hence, it has well established itself as an important engine of economic growth, as well as key contributor to Hong Kong’s position being a leading transportation and logistics hub in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) region. Globally, the HKIA ranks first in international cargo throughout, and fifth in international passenger throughput. The facility handled 32 million passengers and 2.2 million tonnes of cargo in the past 12 months with a diversified carrier base of 65 airlines serving 130 destinations.
Moreover, HKIA is one of the largest reclamation schemes in construction history; the US$850M Passenger Terminal Building is located on a 1248 hectare man-made island. Completed in the run up to Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule, it is capable of meeting passenger capacity requirements until the year 2040.
The future development of the airport is looking vibrant with the construction of a new development adjacent to the passenger terminal called Sky City. This will consist of Sky Plaza - an office, retail and business complex integrated with the passenger terminal, which will then link to the rest of Sky City. Sky City will have the Asia-World Expo exhibition centre, a second hotel project, a nine hole golf course and a permanent cross boundary ferry terminal. Phase two may well consist of a business park, more hotels, and further leisure and entertainment facilities.
The airport will also add extra inter-modal transportation facilities, including the new marine terminal (hosting the cross boundary and domestic ferries), an additional airport express line which will be adjacent to the exhibition centre and a new bus station.
Sky Plaza, which extends from the passenger terminal and is fully integrated with the airport and airport express railway station, will feature airline check in facilities, a transport interchange for coaches (in readiness for Disney), two office towers (total of 30,000m²) and a 38,000m² retail and entertainment centre.
Cargo Expansions. DHL opened a new Central Asia Hub in August 2004, a dedicated and purpose-built air express cargo facility, at the Hong Kong International Airport. The $100 million facility is the largest of its kind in the region. With the opening of the new Central Asia Hub, DHL has become the only express and logistics company to operate a dedicated air express cargo facility in Hong Kong. The 18,200ft² facility is capable of handling up to 440t/d of air express cargo.
Another important cargo development is the expansion of the Asia Airfreight Terminal. Asia Airfreight is investing HK$1.75 billion in the construction of a new terminal (scheduled to be complete by the end of 2006). The terminal will have a handling capacity of 910,000t/yr, which will triple its current capacity. The new facility will enable Asia Airfreight to meet long-term cargo capacity demands.
The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) is the main international gateway of the Philippines. In 2006, the airport handled 17,942,465 passengers which registered 10.6% growth in passenger numbers from 2005. Thus, this event placed the airport 71st worldwide in terms of passenger traffic.
NAIA has three terminals but only two of these are operational. Terminal 1, which has reached its capacity, is used for international flights not operated by Philippine Airlines. On the other hand, Terminal 2 most known as the Centennial Terminal is mainly used for the domestic and international flights of Philippine Airlines, as well as for the domestic flights of their sister company Air Philippines. The second terminal is divided into two wings, the North Wing, which houses the international flights, and the South Wing, which houses the domestic flights. The third terminal of the airport, the larger Terminal 3, had legal hurdles, including international arbitration cases in the United States and Singapore as well as technical concerns which prohibit its opening. However, the government hopes to open the terminal in 2008.
On October 11, 2007, www.Wikipedia.org stated that the new and largest commercial airplane, Airbus A 380 MSN009 test aircraft, landed in NAIA and demonstrated that it can be used under normal airline operating conditions.
HKIA being the tagged as ‘Superhub’ in Asia is evidently well designed to handle greater number of passengers and cargos than NAIA. Thus, HKIA has more equipment and facilities and offers more services in terms of passenger conveniences, aircraft, and freight handling than NAIA. However, it must be noted that if the controversial Terminal 3 of NAIA would have not encountered problems and opened for operation then the airport could handle an additional of 13 million passengers as well as more cargos.
The differences between the two may arise according to travel demands which dictate the design and future development of the facilities. Moreover, HKIA is strategically built on sea by reclamation which also serves as the entry port of ferries coming from China whereas NAIA is located in the main land of Manila. The prevailing geographical conditions surrounding HKIA can allow future expansions and developments while NAIA does not have the same features since informal settlers are crowding the adjacent airport area.
5. Encarta Encyclopedia