The Department of Transportation and Communications’ (DOTC) and the Manila International Airport Authority’s (MIAA) efforts to erase the infrastructure backlog at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) have started to pay off, as the country’s premiere gateway is no longer listed among the world’s worst airports, according to online travel site Guide to Sleeping in Airports (www.sleepinginairports.net).
“While we are pleased to hear that international travelers no longer rate NAIA among the world’s worst, there is obviously still a lot for us to do. Having fully opened Terminal 3 and substantially refurbishing Terminal 1 after decades of neglect, our next focus is decongesting the runway,” said DOTC Secretary Jun Abaya.
Erasing NAIA’s Infrastructure Backlog
It took around 2 years from 2011 to 2013 to unravel the legal complications which prevented Terminal 3 from fully operating, but its resolution paved the way for the transfer of 3.5 million annual passengers from the run-down, overcapacity Terminal 1 to the more modern Terminal 3 building in 2014.
With Terminal 1 restored to its design capacity of 4.5 million yearly passengers, major rehabilitation was undertaken beginning in 2014, most notably through structural retrofitting which ensured the continued safety and integrity of the facility, and the improvement of the mechanical, electrical, and fire protection systems.
Architectural works were also performed, considerably reimaging the airport with a sleeker look and better services. The improvements include:
· More spacious and better-lit check-in and arrival lobbies
· New check-in counters, flight schedule display, and furniture
· Modern interior design for ceilings, floors, and other furnishings
· Better layout for passenger flow
· Reconfigured waiting areas and duty-free sections
· New and additional retail concessionaires to serve passengers
· Less queuing time with the integration of terminal fees into ticket costs
· Installation of new chillers to ensure consistent cooling systems
· Refurbished comfort rooms
· Faster processing time at immigration counters
3 Philippine Airports Land in Asia’s Top 30 List
Meanwhile, three (3) airports made it to list of the top 30 best airports in Asia: Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) landed in 18th place, Iloilo Airport was ranked 21st, and Clark International Airport snagged 24th place.
MCIA has been getting recognition for vastly improved services and facilities, after evident upgrades were implemented by GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC). These include:
Replacement of worn-out interiors such as counters, lighting, and ceiling boards
Reconfiguration of the check-in lobby and waiting areas to free up more space
Improved resort airport theme design, with abundant plant arrangement interiors
Provision of new seats and furniture for added comfort
Upgrading security procedures to lessen passenger queuing
Construction of a greeter’s area
Installation of new equipment, such as self-service check-in kiosks
“This is just the beginning of our airport modernization efforts. The coming years will certainly be exciting as world-class terminals will rise in Mactan-Cebu and Clark; a new international airport will be opened in Panglao and a vastly-improved airport will be launched in Puerto Princesa; and the Davao, Iloilo, Bacolod, and Laguindingan airports will be expanded and their operations upgraded,” remarked Abaya.
Decongesting NAIA’s Runway with British Expert NATS
The DOTC is now focusing its efforts on airside operations, through its NAIA Runway Optimization Project, which is aimed to maximize the use of the runway and increase hourly air traffic movements from 40 up to 60.
It has tapped world-renowned air traffic management expert NATS Services Limited, which has begun gathering data at the airport this week. NATS will submit its recommendations on NAIA’s current airspace, runway and terminal capacity, air traffic and surface operations, runway access points, and Air Traffic Controllers’ (ATC) training within the next six (6) months.
MIAA and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) will implement the recommended improvement measures for the ensuing six (6) months.