Holy Week exodus starts: passenger traffic up at air, land and sea terminals means BUSINESS


MANILA, Philippines – The annual trek to the countryside ahead of Holy Week started at dawn of Friday for many people, who filled airports and train and bus stations to try and be ahead of the crowd. 

As early as 3 a.m. long lines were seen at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s Terminals 1, 2 and 3.

According to the airport public information office, the trend is seen to rise even more next week.

Regular security measures are in place at the NAIA terminals.

Remely Rubio, who just finished a three-year stint as agriculturist in Japan, is flying home to Siquijor and did not mind the long queue at the airport.

“The important thing is I can come home,” said Rubio.  

Another passenger, who just wanted to be called C, was flying to Singapore with five cousins to celebrate their high school graduation.

Passenger volume at the NAIA traditionally goes up 10 percent, according to some airport officials.

NAIA Terminal 1 posted an 8-percent average rise in volume in the Holy Week period in years 2009, 2010 at 2011. Terminal 1 Manager Dante Basanta said that between March 29 and April 4, 2010, a total of 152,519 passengers left the airport; and in the same period in 2011, this was 164,256. The number is seen to rise this year owing to the increasing number of Filipinos eyeing vacations in Hong Kong and Macau where low cost carriers are offering budget fares. 

At Terminal 2 which hosts both domestic and international flights of Philippine Airlines, the same trend is seen, given the spate of promotional prices offered by the flag carrier.

In Terminal 3 where Cebu Pacific, AirPhil Express and All Nippon Airlines are based, the passenger volume was observed to have grown starting this week.

At the Old Domestic Airport, officials expect the trend of a 14-percent increase in passenger traffic to continue. This terminal is used for domestic flights of ZestAir and Seair. 

At the Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC), president and CEO Jose Victor Luciano reported a 50-percent rise in traffic as of mid-2011.

SLEX traffic still normal

Meanwhile, traffic at the vital South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) was still normal, though volume is expected to pick up soon, especially in segments where road repairs and upgrades are still ongoing.

As of Friday, traffic was just building up at the approach of the Calamba toll gate, but traffic was moderate nearing Sto. Tomas, Batangas, where a P48-million road-widening project by the DPWH started last month a few meters from the town’s entrance archway.

Bus terminals

Passenger volume is expected to pick up at the Araneta land transport terminal and other major bus stations by Friday evening.

Ambulances and rescue units are on standby, even as security has been tightened since early this week with the deployment of more sniff dogs and security personnel.