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Old 20th October 2014, 04:47 PM  
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Nice landing at NAIA for first Filipino captain of Emirates A380

by Kris Bayos
October 9, 2014 (updated)

The first Filipino pilot who steered the first Airbus A380 commercial flight from Dubai to Manila had a sentimental journey as he landed the plane nice and smooth at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Tuesday night.

Desiderio (Jim Guiao Punzalan)

Captain Frank Desiderio who has roots in Meycauayan, Bulacan, is based in Dubai for almost a decade now. He last piloted a Manila-bound plane in 2006.

On his maiden trip as pilot of Emirates Flight A380, Desiderio urged aviation authorities to study how the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) can regularly accommodate huge aircrafts on its runway.

While NAIA’s runway is long and wide enough to accommodate an A380, the airport limits aircraft movement, Desiderio noticed.

“The runway technically is long and wide enough. But when we were approaching for landing, they cannot let bigger airplanes taxi with us on the runway or vice versa. They cannot allow an A380 aircraft on the runway and a big airplane on the taxiway,” Desiderio said in an interview at NAIA Terminal 3.

A taxiway is a path on an airport connecting runways with ramps, hangars, terminals and other facilities.

“I think that if they make further study, an A380 can easily make a safe landing or takeoff while an A320 is on the taxiway. If they squeeze it , it can work,” the 41-year-old pilot said.

Nevertheless, Desiderio claimed that the A380’s approach to NAIA was “great” and the landing was “nice.” The Emirates Airbus A380 made its maiden flight to Manila past 10 p.m. last Tuesday to mark the airline’s move to NAIA Terminal 3 from Terminal 1.

Emirates began flights between Dubai and Manila in 1990. The airline company currently deploys thrice daily flights from Manila and Dubai due to “consistently strong” passenger and cargo demand.

“Tonight we proved that we can operate an A380 aircraft in and out of Manila. My only suggestion is (for airport officials) to give more time to study the A380 operations, the limitations and the combination of A380 with other traffic,” Desiderio noted.


Raised in Meycauayan, Bulacan, Desiderio said he felt excited flying a plane back to Manila.

“I wasn’t able to fly a plane to Manila since 2006. Tonight’s flight was really special, because for so long I haven’t approached Manila as a pilot,” said Desiderio who worked as a flight instructor before a nine-year stint with Philippine Airlines (PAL) and eventually transferring to Emirates.

“Napakasaya ng feeling. When we were approaching Manila, I told my co-pilot, this is my hometown. We flew north of Manila and we flew somewhere close to my hometown in Bulacan and I felt so happy. I am the first Filipino A380 captain commanding the first A380 commercial flight to Manila and I’m flying over head my hometown. Napakasaya ng feeling,” Desiderio beamed with pride.

Desiderio, who started flying alone at the age of 16, said moving to a global airline is both a career and family move for him.

“There were many reasons and factors, one of which is bringing my wife and two kids somewhere nicer. I was dreaming of putting my kids in international schools that is why it was also a family move. I moved them to Dubai and we have been living there for the past 9 years,” he added.

Desiderio likewise confirmed that the compensation of pilots under global airlines is “quite different and more than double” than what he was getting as a pilot when he resigned from PAL.

In the nine years and four months that he has been with Emirates, Desiderio has commanded A380 flights.

He encouraged young Filipino pilots to pursue their dreams whether flying for local or global airlines.

“The Philippines is a good place to start. If you can jump start your career as a pilot here, it’s quite good as well. For young pilots to get that confidence, they have to take time in studying and go into training. A strong foundation counts,” he volunteers.


Aside from Desiderio, there are eight other Filipino pilots working for Emirates, two of whom are undergoing training to command A380 aircrafts. Desiderio said this proves that Filipino pilots can be flexible and globally competitive.

“Filipinos are globally competitive. I know many Filipino pilots who are already working abroad just like me and they are quite excellent pilots. All of us came from the Philippines. We came mostly from the same aviation school and we trained together,” he said.
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