By Ma. Cristina Arayata and Raymond Carl Dela Cruz

ENSURING SMOOTH TRAVEL. Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista (in light blue barong) checks on the situation at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 on April 4, 2023. The Manila International Airport Authority on Wednesday (April 5, 2023) reported an orderly flow of passengers at the country’s main gateway. (PNA photo by Avito Dalan)

MANILA – The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) on Holy Wednesday reported an orderly flow of passengers at the country’s main gateway amid the peak season.

“So far naman po so good ngayon and maayos po ang ating mga pila (So far, so good, and queues were orderly),” MIAA senior assistant general manager Bryan Co said in a Laging Handa public briefing.

Co attributed this to the proper coordination with the airlines, ground handlers, and the various agencies manning the airport.

He said many tourists were going through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) but it was not overcrowded as the passenger flow was continuous.

NAIA registered an on-time performance (OTP) – an indicator of flight punctuality – of 87 percent on Holy Tuesday.

The OTP rates from Saturday to Monday were 70 percent, 86 percent, and 91 percent, respectively.

Co also said the MIAA has been recording 110,000 to 120,000 passengers at the NAIA in the past few days.

The MIAA is expecting a 10 percent to 15 percent increase in these figures by Wednesday and Thursday when more travelers are expected, he said.

Passenger surge is also expected on Sunday and Monday.

Co said authorities continue to augment their manpower with the MIAA assisting the Office for Transportation Security so that their personnel could focus on processing passengers at the pre-departure and boarding gates.

Additional personnel of the Philippine Coast Guard were deployed to the NAIA to help manage the queues at the screening checkpoints.

Meanwhile, Co said certain airlines have been allowed to open their check-in counters earlier to accommodate passengers.

Passengers were advised to arrive three hours before an international flight schedule, and at least two hours before a domestic flight.

“During this season, we have put up help desks across the four terminals to ensure efficiency and address the concerns of our passengers,” he said.

Port rules relaxed

Meanwhile, the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) on Wednesday relaxed some policies at passenger ports to address the high demand for sea travel during the Lenten season.

In a statement, MARINA said a relaxation order, effective March 26 to April 23, has been issued to allow ships to depart as soon as they reach their maximum authorized passenger and/or cargo capacities.

This policy, it said, would help reduce waiting time for passengers and ensure speedy transportation.

The agency also said it had implemented heightened alert status through its “Oplan Biyaheng Ayos: Semana Santa 2023,” based on the directives of the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

To address a notable influx of passengers at the Batangas Port, MARINA’s Regional Office 4 has coordinated with the relevant shipping companies.

“Please note that only two companies, Archipelago Philippine Ferries Corp. and Starlite Ferries, Inc., have online booking services,” the MARINA statement read.

To date, shipping lines operating in the port have deployed the maximum personnel to manage 24/7 operations in their ticketing booths.

“However, due to the limited space provided by the said port, shipping companies cannot deploy additional manpower who will serve as ambulant tellers,” it said.

It encouraged shipping companies to offer online booking services to minimize queuing time and improve the passenger experience.

It also urged the public to work with port authorities and shipping companies by following protocols and guidelines to ensure a “smooth and safe travel experience.”

“We would like to assure the public that we are doing all our efforts to ensure that sea passengers will have safe and secure navigation,” it said. (PNA)