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Getting around by air

Book well in advance if you plan to arrive in the Philippines from mid- to late December – expat Filipinos flood the islands to visit their families during Christmas and New Year. The lead-up to Chinese New Year in late January or early February can also get congested.

Airports & Airlines

Ninoy Aquino International Airport (www.miaa.gov.ph) The busiest international airport in the country and the one you're most likely to fly into and out of. Even after recent upgrades to the main international terminal, Terminal 1, the airport receives negative reviews from travellers.

Mactan-Cebu International Airport (www.mactan-cebuairport.com.ph) Cebu’s airport is second only to Manila in terms of air traffic, but way ahead in terms of user-friendliness. Note that the airport is actually on Mactan Island, 15km east of Cebu City.

Clark International Airport (http://crk.clarkairport.com) Near Angeles, a two-hour bus ride north of Metro Manila. It's traditionally a hub for low-cost airlines but an increasing number of legacy Asian and Middle Eastern carriers are flying here. There's talk of a high-speed railway to Manila but that's still some way off. Airlines serving Clark with international flights include Cebu Pacific, Tigerair, Air Asia and Qatar Airways.

Davao International Airport (www.davaointernational.com) For now, only SilkAir has flights to Singapore; routes to Malaysia might begin operating.

Kalibo International Airport (www.kalibointernational.com) Useful direct flights to Kalibo, near Boracay, from Beijing, Kunming, Hong Kong, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore and other Asian hubs.

Besides the international airlines that come up on any internet flight search, the following regional budget and Philippine carriers are worth checking out for flights into and out of the country:


Cebu Pacific


Philippine Airlines


Departure Tax

No departure tax on international departures (the P750 fee is wrapped into your ticket).

Feature: Terminal Chaos

Navigating Manila’s convoluted Ninoy Aquino International Airport is a nightmare. NAIA’s four terminals are linked only by busy public roads, and shuttle vans linking them are unreliable, so take a taxi between terminals if you're in a hurry.

Pay close attention to which terminal your airline uses and allow plenty of time between connecting flights if you have to switch terminals. Most international flights use recently upgraded but still dismal Terminal 1. However, international flights run by Cebu Pacific, ANA, Cathay Pacific, Delta, Emirates Air, KLM and Singapore Airlines use newer Terminal 3.

Some domestic flights run by Philippine Airlines (PAL), and all domestic flights run by Cebu Pacific, also use Terminal 3. Meanwhile, all PAL international and some PAL domestic flights use yet another terminal, the Centennial Terminal 2.

Lastly, all AirAsia and Skyjet flights, and ‘Cebgo’-branded Cebu Pacific flights, use the ancient Manila Domestic Terminal (Terminal 4), located near Terminal 3.