6 members of Singapore's Changi Airport Group inspect NAIA

November 28, 2011 11:02 pm 

MANILA, Nov. 28 — Six members of the Changi Airport Group (CAG) invited by the government to look into the problems of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport 1 (NAIA 1), on Monday were surprised that they were able to breeze through the immigration and customs area in 25 minutes.

“So, where’s the problem,” ask one of the members, expecting that they would line up a long time and that the NAIA 1 would be congested with passengers, which would take them a long time to get out of the terminal.

“Don’t believe that you are the worse airport in the world, we’ve seen a lot worst,” says Jose Pantangco, senior vice president of the CAG. The group is comprised of five male and one female.

The team flew in aboard a Singapore Airlines flight SQ-918, which arrived at 8:35 pm Sunday.

Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Jose Angel Honrado told the group that they arrive during a lean arrival hour to explain their speedy exit, and asked them to observe during peak arrival hours, which occur three to four times a day.

Last Sunday, during one of the peak arrival hours at 2pm, six wide-body jets from the Middle East dislodged about 1,800 passengers, mostly vacationing Overseas Filipino workers (Ofw) and were cleared by the immigration agents in 30 minutes

This is the usual time for clearing such number of passengers, even in Hong Kong or Singapore, Honrado said.

The NAIA 1 was called the worst airport in the world by a blog called “The Guide to Sleeping in Airport,” which criticize the terminal for lack of sleeping space. The members of the blog are the usual back-packers and travellers with limited budget who make use of airport terminals to spend the night for free.

The Philippines was not alone in the list, and was included with nine other airports such as the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, the Los Angeles Airport in California and the Reykjavic Airport in Iceland.

The CAG came back early yesterday morning and held a closed-door dialogue with Transportation and Communications Secretary Mar Roxas, Honrado, Mayor Antonino Calixto of Pasay City, NAIA 1 Terminal manager Dante Basanta, NAIA 3 manager Octavio Lina and other NAIA officials at the airport’s Dignitaries Lounge.

On Sunday afternoon the group was scheduled to have talks with members of the Airline Operators Council (AOC) to get their side on the supposed difficulty of passengers navigating through the NAIA 1 either to get out of the terminal or get into their airplanes.

Honrado said that although the structural retrofitting of the NAIA 1 had been awarded, pro bono, to Leandro V. Locsin (LVL) architectural firm, the government had invited the CAG to study the flow of passengers and associated problems. He said their findings would be submitted to the DOTC sometime in December and would be incorporated in the construction when the NAIA 1 undergoes it’s P1.1 billion facelifting and upgrading starting January.

The reconstruction would last from 12 to 18 months, Honrado said.

He added that the complaint of the group of Kenneth Cobunpue, Royal Pineda and Budji Layug, that they were dropped among those who will participate in the construction is incorrect.

“They were temporarily set aside, not rejected since there is no bidding yet,” Honrado said.

He revealed that the government would conduct an open bidding for the P1.5 billion construction that would include the installation of a Rapid Exit Taxiway on runway 06-24.

He said the bulk of the money would go first into the RET, then the retrofitting of the 30-year old terminal, and the remaining money would be for the so-called “aesthetic” or beautification of the building’s interiors.

“What is the use of a beautiful building if aircraft are experiencing congestion because our runway could not handle the number of arrivals due to the old designed taxiway?” Honrado said. (PNA)

DCT/OTO/ssc

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