Friday, August 5, 2011

Touchdown Davao: A Comprehensive Review of Davao International Airport

Francisco Bangoy International Airport (Filipino: Paliparang Pandaigdig ng Francisco Bangoy, Cebuano: Tugpahanang Pangkalibutanon sa Francisco Bangoy), also called Davao International Airport (IATA: DVO, ICAO: RPMD) is the primary gateway of Mindanao serving Davao City, the largest city of the Philippines in terms of land area.


(Top picture: Façade of Davao International Airport, photo by yours truly. Bottom left: The infamous Durian monument sits in front of the terminal building created by a Davaoeño artist, Kublai Milan. Photo by George Parillo via Flickr. Bottom Right: The right wing of the terminal building, photo by lightning099 via Flickr.)

I have been to this airport since 1992 and over the years I have witnessed its developments. It had undergone major upgrades from its terminal and cargo buildings to its navigational systems in order to meet the international standards. It had also battled some serious issues about its expansion, survived a bomb explosion which claimed at least 30 innocent lives and even experienced a few notable air disasters.

But despite these issues, I can truly say that the airport’s image was not compromised since the start of its operation.

A Little Bit of History

The airport began its operation around 1940s after a prominent figure of Davao, Francisco Bangoy donated a huge parcel of land in Barangay Sasa. During the early phase of its operation, the airport consisted of a 1,200 meter unpaved runway and several quonset huts which functioned as its terminal building. The airport continued its expansion in the late 50s as several low-rise buildings were built along with a small control tower.

Davao Airport in the early 60s. Photo by J&B Photos via Flickr.

The former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos hired Leandro Locsin, a Filipino architect and a national artist, to design a new terminal building with a capacity of 1 million passengers. Construction started in 1980 and opened years later. The runway (05/23) has been continuously expanded up to its present length of 3,000 meters. Both projects were funded by then-Congressman Manuel Garcia.

The Php 15 million international terminal was built in the early 90s to decongest the domestic terminal. But it was not enough. Plans of building a new and bigger terminal started in 1992 and construction began in 2000. The new terminal opened last December 2, 2003 with a capacity of over 2 million passengers.  The construction of the new P2.7 billion passenger terminal was funded by both the Asian Development Bank and the European Investment Bank.

The Exterior

The new terminal of Davao International Airport is four times larger than the combined area of the two old terminals. The terminal’s architecture is Malay-inspired, similar to the old terminal. Outside the terminal, guests and tourists would be greeted by a large Durian monument designed by Kublai Milan, Davao’s famous artist.


There are several shops outside the terminal building. The Duty Free shop is located in front of the terminal building to cater the shopping needs of the guests.


Upon entering the airport complex, the security guards will check your vehicle and itstrunk before you enter to the main building. The road to the departure area had been closed by Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte due to security reasons. Before entering the terminal building, the guards will double check your ID and e-ticket. The line would be long especially between 4AM-7AM where seven flights from Manila, Cebu and Iloilo arrive simultaneously. Although, the guards are considerate enough whenever you’re running late for your flight; they’ll allow you to skip the long queue but not the security check-in, of course.

Took this around 6AM.

Once you get pass through the initial x-ray, check-in is a breeze. Even at its peak hours, the airport can handle the steady inflow of passengers with its 14 domestic and 14 international check-in counters, almost double than its previous number of counters. The check-in counters are equipped with electronic weighing scales and conveyors and its baggage handling system is also computerized.

The airport’s check-in counters. Also, they still didn’t remove Tricia’s poster. PBB Teen Season 3 is so 2009. ;-)

After the check-in, the passenger will go the second floor and pay the terminal fee. Php 200 shall be collected for domestic passengers and Php 550 for international passengers. There are lots of shops and restaurants located at the two floors of the airport. Whether it caters your gastronomic needs or shopping desires, the airport provides all of its client’s needs. In my experience, I haven’t had any problems encountered during check-in. Fast, efficient and hassle-free. It took me less than thirty minutes before I proceed to the predeparture area where I can unwind and relax before boarding my flight.

Predeparture Area

The predeparture area of Davao International Airport is well-maintained, clean and air-conditioned. Although it tends to get warm most especially during its busiest hours (early morning, lunch time, and early evening). But at least, there are still enough enough sits available for every passengers. At least 10 LCD TVs were strategically placed inside the predeparture area. Smokers can also avail the smoking lounge. Mabuhay passengers can unwind inside the prestigious Mabuhay lounge of Philippine Airlines.

Netizens will surely love the predeparture area of Davao International Airport. Just recently, Smart replaced their old desktop computers with more modern tablet devices specifically Apple iPad 2 and Samsung Galaxy Tab P1000. Travelers who would like to surf online before their departure can use an Apple iPad 2 or Samsung Galaxy Tab P1000.

Now, travelers can post  their “Here at Davao International Airport, waiting for my flight. via iPad 2” messages on their Facebook and Twitter profiles. Now that’s what I call innovation!

Here are some photos that I took inside the predeparture area:


And here’s a photo taken by Jon – Philippine Airlines Boeing 747-400 (PR 812) bound for Manila. Beautiful, isn’t it?


And this one’s taken by Tito Oliver:



The airport has four conveyor belts, 2 for the domestic wing and 2 for the international wing. Arrival is also efficient. Transportation is not a problem. There are taxis (don’t worry, taxi drivers in Davao are known for their honesty) and vans readily available at the arrival area. You can also opt to ride the public jeeps too, if you’re on a tight budget!


According to the latest statistics provided by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), Davao Int’l Airport is the third busiest airport in the whole country and the busiest in the island of Mindanao, serving at least 2.6 million passengers. It had also served 34,257 metric tons of cargo.

Davao may have suffered some minor glitches like the inavailability of toilet papers in some rest rooms and untidy roof of the terminal building (thank God they cleaned it already). There are reports that the Davao International Airport will have its own authority, like the Ninoy Aquino International Airport of Manila and Mactan-Cebu International Airport in Cebu.

More so, more international flights are planning to commence flights to Davao.

I believe that the airport has a bright future ahead!

Contact Information

Francisco Bangoy International Airport is located along Phil-Japan Friendship Highway, Brgy. Sasa, Buhangin, Davao City. It is approximately 12 kilometers away from Downtown Davao.

AirPhil Express Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Manila, Iloilo (starting Aug 18)
Cebu Pacific Air Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Manila, Iloilo and Zamboanga
Philippine Airlines Manila
Zest Airways Manila
Silk Air Singapore1
Tiger Airways Singapore (starting Nov 1)

Note: 1Although most of SilkAir's flights to Singapore stops in Cebu, SilkAir has no rights to transport passengers between Davao and Cebu.

Contact number: (082) 2342915


  1. Great review.

    I read DIA subsidizes other airports in Mindanao who cannot stand on their own legs.
    Hence, it runs on a tight budget .

  2. Hello! That's the reason why the Davao City Chamber of Commerce really wants the airport to have its own authority, like NAIA and Mactan-Cebu. With that, mapapabilis ang proseso ng expansion since kanya nalang ang pera na kikitain niya through terminal fee.

  3. very nice! this is the first time i visited your blog. it's good that you advertise Davao City. It is indeed the best city in the Philippines.

  4. Oh yes, Davao City is the place to be! :D

  5. suggest ko lang ha?..dapat nang i transfer nang airport na yan,either sa my callawa buhangin dist.,or mag reclaim jan banda sa my coastal area nang bunawan/lasang portion.wla pang flight path,or samal area.tapos ibenta nlang yan sa mga realstate dveloper yun old airport at ang kita? ang syang igastos sa pagpapatayo nng bagong airport.intl nga pero d pang world class...

  6. I am not connected with CAAP or with the DOTC. And besides, Davao is not that congested pa.

  7. Davao Int'l Airport or DIA is one of best airport I have been within the country because its clean, well-maintained and uniquely Davao in architecture (especially the pointed roofs). The white interiors evokes space and light mood. I'm also surprised that it can accommodate a B744. Because on my 1st visit there, my PAL flight use that aircraft and it looks awesome on DIA!

  8. i hope you will also post about Tiger Airways in Davao International Airport like their picture and also the passenger traffic or load. thanks

  9. I think airport management should start buying land around the airport before it becomes residential. The runway can handle up to 10 aircraft, but the main tarmac can barely hold 4 jumbo jets. Sa tingin ko kasi na darating ang time na more than 5 jumbo jets na ang kailangang gumamit nang sabay sabay, pero halos wala nang space for tarmac widening. At tsaka yaong isang end ng runway is pointed directly to downtown DC,

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