Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Airport Review: Davao International Airport

Davao International Airport (IATA: DVO), is the main airport serving Davao City and the busiest airport in the region of Mindanao. Formerly known as Francisco Bangoy International Airport, it is named after the patriarch of an influential family residing in the city who donated the land where the airport operates. The airport has a single 3,000-meter precision runway.

Welcome to Davao!!!
The current terminal replaces the previous airport terminal, which lie just across it, in handling both domestic and international flights operating to and from Davao. The P2.7 billion passenger terminal is a Malay architecture-inspired building which is four times larger than the old terminal. It is highly computerized, more secure and has more commercial spaces for concessionaires at approximately 9,000 sq. meter. It has four units of jet bridges for passengers. The terminal has 14 domestic and 14 international check-in counters that can handle a steady flow of passenger traffic. The Check-in counters are equipped with electronic weighing scales and conveyors and its baggage handling system is also computerized. It also has 2 arrival areas, for domestic and international with 2 baggage conveyors each. The Cargo Terminal Building covers almost 5,580 sq. meters and can handle up to 84,600 metric tons of cargo a year. The modernization and upgrading of the airport facilities aims to cement Davao as a hub for tourism and foreign investment in the region.

Initial construction began in 2000 while plans for construction were announced in 1992. After almost a decade, the new terminal was inaugurated on December 2, 2003. On November 12, 2007, Cebu Pacific announced this airport as its third hub.

The following airlines and their destinations currently serve Davao International Airport:
1.      Air Asia Philippines – Clark
2.      Airphil Express – Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Clark, Iloilo, Manila, Zamboanga
3.   Cebu Pacifir Air – Butuan, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Dipolog, Iloilo, Kalibo, Manila, Puerto Princesa, Zamboanga
4.      Philippine Airlines – Manila
5.      Wings Air – Manado
6.      SEA (South East Asian) Air - Manila
7.      Silk Air – Singapore
8.      Zest Airways - Manila

(Information source: Wikipedia: Davao Airport)

I experienced being in Davao International Airport when I visited the city in Summer 2009.

Left outside facade of the airport.
Overview of the main terminal. Photo courtesy of Jetphotos.net
Building and Facilities
The terminal building is strikingly white-painted outside but what makes it more striking are the layered triangular shape Malay-inspired roof.  The pointed roof design also echoes Davao’s famed fruit king – Durian particularly its pointed thorn-like skin texture. The building’s predominantly white color with accents of gray and green creates an airy and spacious atmosphere. The choice of white as the predominant color also evokes a light feeling and mood along with the concept of maximizing the spaces of the building for handling larger capacity of passengers.  

The multi-floor terminal is designed to meet the international standards of an airport terminal. It serves both domestic and international flights and its capacity is designed to handle both type of flights. It has four jetways that has the capacity of handling a bigger plane like Boeing 747-400 of Philippine Airlines which is regularly deployed on the airport.  It can also handle mid-range and long-range aircraft types like Airbus 330-300 and Airbus 340-300 with its 3,000 meter runway. I think it can even handle a long-range Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.  

The Smart ad that designs the outside façade of the terminal facing the plane side added colors and Davao character to the dominantly white painted building of the terminal.

Mount Apo in the air!!!
Davao, here I come! On approach to the airport.
My arrival to Davao was exciting and very much welcoming because in the air I was treated with a glimpse of Mount Apo! It’s the Philippines’ highest peak. I don’t know if it depends on aircraft approach but as our plane banks on an approach to Davao Airport, I saw a group of tall mountain peaks surrounded by clouds that one resembles the peak of Mount Apo. I knew that I saw the country’s tallest peak when I compare the pictures I took with the pictures of Mount Apo’s peak. I marvel in viewing Mount Apo in the air. It was a great welcome on my first time visit to Davao!

The arrival area is spacious with 4 baggage conveyors to ease claiming of check-in luggage. It has a friendly service desk for tourists who want to inquire about the tours around the city and getting transportation out of the airport. The outside façade has a line-up of numerous taxis available for transportation. But what I like about in Davao, is that these taxis are registered at the security desks before going out of the airport facilities for security reasons of the tourists and taxi scam fares. Most of the taxi drivers are naturally friendly and not forced. The Durian Monument designed by Kublai Milan, Davao’s famous artist found at the front facade was a great welcome for tourists and visitors who want to discover the city.

The striking Durian monument at the outside facade of the airport.
The glass doors and waiting area roofs are tinted in dark green color.  The Malay-inspired roof is also designed up to the roofs of waiting areas of the terminal building. These layers of pointed triangles also echoes the skin of Durian – Davao’s fame king fruit as I’ve observed before. The Malay-inspired roof is also reflected inside the terminal that looks like a big ceiling of a “Bahay Kubo” with modern and steel design. The ceiling has glass linings where natural sunlight can pass through and gives additional lighting inside the departure terminal. The glass designed walls were wide and tall to get more natural lighting get through inside the airport. I also noticed that the Malay-inspired pointed designs is also echoed in on top of these walls and resembles roofs of traditional Nipa hut house or “Bahay Kubo”.

Malay-inspired designed of Davao International Airport. Photo courtesy of Come Visit Davao.
View of the departure area from the terminal's second floor.
 International and domestic check-in counters are separated by a divider with an escalator that leads to the 2nd floor where the final checks, gates and lounges are located. The terminal is complete with immigration and final security checks for international flights. There are also souvenir shops, restaurants and cafes for passengers to enjoy while waiting for their flight. The 2nd second floor also has lounges for VIP passengers. One of the lounges is Mabuhay Lounge for Philippine Airlines’ business class and high miler passengers.

While the departure area has a grand designs of Malay inspirations, the gate area was ordinarily bland in design and majority where just painted in white and green carpeted. Wide glass walls facing the planeside give a view of airline operations and actions on-going in the airport. Davao International Airport has a terminal fee of 200PHP for domestic passengers.

Check-in counters at the departure area. Photo courtesy of Jetphotos.net
Gate holding area. Photo courtesy of Come Visit Davao.
Mabuhay Lounge of Philippines Airlines. Photo courtesy of Come Visit Davao.
Gate waiting area before passengers embark to the aircraft. Photo courtesy of Come Visit Davao.
My Conclusion
The location and space of the current terminal of Davao has a big potential for expansion in case it needs to expand for additional capacity, more flights and rising passenger flow. My impression when I first stepped inside the terminal was it looks like a mini version of NAIA Centennial Terminal 2. This is mainly because of its predominantly white color of the terminal inside and outside of the building including the glass inspired designs. But Davao International Airport still has a distinction because of its Malay and Durian-inspired designs.

The current space of the terminal is enough to serve the current capacity that the airport is handling currently. I just wish they redesign the gate holding areas for a more appealing architecture and did not resorted to a boring white atmosphere area. I think it would also be better if the cafes, shops and restaurants are near the gate holding area as most airport are designed that way. Unlike in Davao International Airport, they are located before entering the gate areas thus they are on a separate facility area of the terminal.

Samal Island and Davao in the air!
Since the terminal is an international airport, I hope the government and concerning agencies will promote the city to have more international flights. I feel that the international side of the terminal is underuse with only Silk Air and Wings Air serving the airport for international flights. Local airlines should be tapped for the potential of the airport to have international flights. Cebu Pacific’s move of making Davao as its third domestic hub was a great move.

Lastly, a departure flight from Davao, gives an air glimpse of beautiful Samal Island – one of the Davao’s tourism draws. The marvelous sights of this beach resort and adventure activity dotted island reminds me and all of us that Davao has a great role in shaping up Philippine tourism potentials.  
Airport Review is a section in Going Places where I gave a comprehensive review and insights to the airports that I have been in my travels. Review ranges from the airport's arrival and departure area, functionality, terminal structure, facility, airport location up to the unique amenities that the airport offers. These airport reviews will give travelers a first-hand experience of what it is to expect inside these airport terminals


  1. ang ganda ng design ah, very vernacular looking. haven't been here, next year pa :)

  2. may silk air pala sa davao.interesting yung destinations nila ha but it looks like hindi siya budget airline.mahal kasi ng rates nila

    1. the silk air rates are far more cheaper than cebu pacific from Singapore to Davao.. :) i always fly by Silk Air pag umuuwi ako sa amin sa davao

  3. Missed my chance seeing Davao last Kadayawan :( Hope I get a chance to visit next year. Didn't know also that it's servicing Silk Air.

  4. Silk Air flies daily to Davao to Singapore via Davao. May DVO have more international flights to come in the future!

  5. @Ian Agree! Especially that Davao has a potential of being the Southern Gateway of the Philippines.

  6. If ever DIA will have more international flights, there's a big possibility that there will be flights from Japan (since Japan has a strong ties with Davao City) and Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, and New Zaeland (since those countries are technically much nearer to Davao than Manila).


All comments and reactions are highly appreciated.

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