Subic Bay International Airport

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Subic Bay International Airport
Paliparang Pandaigdig ng Look ng Subic (Filipino)
Aerial view of Subic Bay International Airport
Airport type Public
Operator Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority
Serves Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Zambales, Olongapo City, Bataan
Location Mabayo, Morong, Bataan
Elevation AMSL 20 m / 64 ft
Coordinates 14°47′39″N 120°16′15″E / 14.79417°N 120.27083°E / 14.79417; 120.27083Coordinates: 14°47′39″N 120°16′15″E / 14.79417°N 120.27083°E / 14.79417; 120.27083
SFS/RPLB is located in Philippines
Location in the Philippines
Direction Length Surface
m ft
07/25 2,744 9,003 Asphalt

Subic Bay International Airport (Filipino: Paliparang Pandaigdig ng Look ng Subic) or SBIA (IATA: SFS, ICAO: RPLB) serves as a secondary airport and a main diversion airport of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. It is also the airport serving the immediate area of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone and the general area of Olongapo in the Philippines. This airport was previously Naval Air Station Cubi Point of the United States Navy.

Subic Bay International Airport


In 1950, Admiral Arthur W. Radford, Commander-in-Chief of the United States Pacific Fleet, envisioned an army base in the Western Pacific to enhance Seventh Fleet capabilities. In 1951, construction started on the Subic Bay Naval Base. In 1952, Admiral Radford made his first landing at Cubi Point. After decades of use by American forces, Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991, burying Cubi Point in 18-36 inches of ash. Despite this, the American government wished to keep the Subic Naval Base and signed a treaty with the Philippine government. The treaty was not ratified, however, failing by a slim margin in the Philippine Senate. Attempts to negotiate a new treaty were soon abandoned and the United States was informed that it was to withdraw within one year. U.S. forces withdrew in November 1992, turning over the facility with its airport to the Philippine government.

Initially some 8,000 volunteers guarded the facility and prevented looters from damaging the facilities. The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) was created to manage the facility by virtue of Republic Act No. 7227[1] after intense lobbying of then-Mayor Richard Gordon. He was appointed its first Chairman and Administrator.

Twenty days after the departure of American forces, the airport ushered in its first commercial flight from Taiwan via Makung. In February 1993, NAS Cubi Point was converted to Cubi Point International Airport. To herald its designation as an international airport, President Fidel V. Ramos chose to arrive in November 1993 from an official visit to the United States using the airport.[2] This flight also proved the capabilities of the airport as the President arrived aboard the delivery flight of Philippine Airlines's first Boeing 747-400.

Construction of the present runway by Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction commenced in 1993 and was completed in April 1995, in time for the inaugural landing of FedEx Express MD-11 and the formal opening of FedEx's AsiaOne hub. The newly renamed Subic Bay International Airport was formally opened on 30 September 1996.[3] The new US$12.6-million passenger terminal built by Summa Kumagai Inc. (a joint Filipino-Japanese venture) was inaugurated on 4 November 1996, in time for the 4th APEC Leaders' Summit.[4]

Between 1992 and 1995 SBIA welcomed a total of around 100,000 commercial passengers.[3] The airport was expected to handle 110,000 passengers in 1996.[3] In 1997, SBIA topped the 100,000 annual passenger count. For the year 1998, the airport handled a total of around 1,000 international and 6,000 domestic flights, and almost 100,000 inbound and outbound passengers.[5] By 2007 the number of recorded passengers had dropped to 17,648, but due to the presence of the FedEx AsiaOne Hub the airport still handled 115,108 flights.[6]

The FedEx hub lasted until February 2009, when all operations were moved to Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport in Guangzhou, China. Due to this departure, as well as the planned expansion of nearby Clark International Airport, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Administrator and CEO Armand C. Arreza expressed interest in closing Subic Bay International Airport in favor of converting the area to a logistics hub in January 2010.[7]

In December 2010, Guam-based Aviation Concepts Inc. set up fixed-based operations[8] at the airport, refurbishing a 100,000 square foot hangar to international standards, with the aim of eventually establishing a full-service aviation center.

In 2016, the airport began to once again be used for daily commercial passenger flights, with Air Juan flying their nine-seater amphibious aircraft to and from their private seaplane base in Manila South Harbor, located north of the CCP Complex.[9]

Airport facilities[edit]

Subic Bay International Airport boasts of modern facilities, which include the following:

  • 10,000-square metre passenger terminal, with 2 gates
  • 2 stearn jetways
  • Closed-circuit television (CCTV)
  • 9000 foot runway
  • Military Ramp (Southwest Ramp) being used by the US Armed forces as a part of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the United States.

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Air Juan Manila Harbor (Air Juan Seaplane Terminal)[9]

Cargo airlines[edit]

FedEx Express closed its hub at Subic Bay on 6 February 2009, this was the first hub to be closed in FedEx's history. The hub operation was relocated to Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport in China and while ground and technical operations were transferred to Clark International Airport in Clark Freeport Zone.[10] FedEx's support company, Corporate Air, ceased all operations after the hub closure.[11]

Flight training[edit]

  • APG International Aviation Academy
  • Aero Equipment Aviation Inc.
  • ACE Pilots Aviation Academy
  • OMNI Aviation Corporation
  • Asian Institute Of Aviation
  • Alpha Aviation Group

The airport is also a base of a flight school Aeroflite Aviation Corp since 2006. Aeroflite utilizes the Midway ramp as its aircraft parking ramp. Training flights are conducted everyday except for holidays and as long as the VFR in Subic Bay International Airport is open. The flight school has a fleet of Cessna 150, 152, 172, Piper Seneca and Beechcraft Baron 58. Flight training in Subic Airport is done under controlled airspace where radio communications is vital.


Incidents and accidents[edit]

  • On December 13, 1995, SBIA became the main diversion airport when the Ninoy Aquino International Airport had a problem with its runway because of Asian Spirit Flight 897. On that day, it served 1,674 passengers from various international airlines while serving 212 passengers from various local airlines.
  • On October 17, 1999, a FedEx Express flight 87 MD-11 from Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, upon landing into Subic Bay's runway 07 rolled onto runway 25, hitting a concrete post and slamming into a wire fence before plunging into the bay. All of the plane was submerged except the cockpit. The aircraft was written off.[12]
  • On August 18, 2007, the airport became one of the main diversion airports due to "Super Typhoon" Typhoon Sepat (2007) (also known as Typhoon 'Egay') which struck Taiwan and parts of China and the Philippines. At least 37 aircraft took shelter in Subic Bay International Airport, 18 of which were FedEx Express. SBIA could handle up to 41 aircraft at a time.[13] Most of the aircraft which diverted or sought shelter from the Typhoon were from China and Taiwan, numerous inbound and outbound Philippine flights were also delayed and cancelled due to the typhoon.[14]
  • In June 2010, the Doppler Very High Frequency Omnidirectional Range (DVOR) controlling the Ninoy Aquino International Airport's navigational aid failed following a short circuit.[15] The Manila International Airport Authority got the replacement parts from Subic Bay Airport's own VOR[15] thus disabling the Subic VOR from June to September 2010. But as of mid-October 2010 the SBIA has partially operated its navigational aids like the VOR, ILS and Airport Radar and resumed its ATIS during daylight hours only and later become fully functional in the first week of November 2010.


  1. ^ Congress of the Philippines (13 March 1992). "Republic Act No. 7227 - The Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 October 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  2. ^ "Milestones in the History of PAL". Archived from the original on 22 February 2006. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c Bangsberg, P.T. (25 August 1996). "Subic Bay launching gateway". The Journal of Commerce. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  4. ^ Agence France Presse (4 November 1996). "Fidel Ramos defends APEC security preparations in RP". Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  5. ^ Urban Land Institute (1999). "ULI Development Case Studies: Subic Bay Freeport" (PDF). Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  6. ^ "Philippine Yearbook, 2011 - Chapter 19: Transportation" (PDF). Philippine Statistics Authority. 2012. Retrieved 3 May 2017. 
  7. ^ Cahiles-Magkilat, Bernie (26 January 2010). "SBMA mulls Subic airport as logistics hub". Manila Bulletin. Archived from the original on 27 May 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  8. ^ Empeño, Henry (9 February 2011). "Aviation firm Subic airport's new tenant". ABS-CBN News. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  9. ^ a b Arnaldo, Ma. Stella F. (10 November 2016). "Air Juan boosts local tourism businesses via island linkages". Business Mirror. Retrieved 4 May 2016. 
  10. ^ Bayarong, John (5 February 2009). "Fedex closing hub operations in Subic on Friday". GMA News Online. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  11. ^ "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International. 3 April 2007. p. 69. 
  12. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident description McDonnell Douglas MD-11F N581FE - Subic Bay International Airport (SFS)". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 2 February 2008. 
  13. ^ Burgonio, TJ; Quismundo, Tarra (18 August 2007). "39 planes seek shelter from 'Egay' in Clark, Subic". Retrieved 14 September 2007. [dead link]
  14. ^ "(UPDATE 2) 'Egay' cancels, delays some domestic flights". August 2007. Retrieved 14 September 2007. [dead link]
  15. ^ a b "Many NAIA flights canceled as navigational aid breaks down". ABS-CBN News. 19 June 2010. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 

External links[edit]