By Filane Mikee Cervantes

IMPROVING SERVICES. Photo shows passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 on Dec. 28, 2023. Lawmakers on Wednesday (March 20, 2024) said the PHP170.6-billion Public-Private Partnership (PPP) agreement for NAIA rehabilitation would help solve the issues plaguing the country’s main airport, such as poor service and passenger inconvenience. (PNA photo by Cristina Arayata)

MANILA – The PHP170.6-billion Public-Private Partnership (PPP) agreement for the rehabilitation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) will help solve the issues plaguing the country’s main airport, such as poor service and passenger inconvenience, lawmakers said on Wednesday.

In a press conference, Deputy Speaker and Quezon Rep. David Suarez said NAIA needs major improvements in light of the recent controversies, particularly the pest infestation problem.

Suarez said the rehabilitation deal is a welcome development to enhance NAIA’s facilities and elevate it to a “world-class” standard.

“I would like to congratulate, of course, (Transportation) Secretary Jaime Bautista on this initiative, together of course our President, President Bongbong Marcos. It will not only give better services to Filipinos but I think it’s a clear sign also for the rest of the country that the Philippines is moving toward the direction of being a first-class, world-class country when it comes to amenities and services,” Suarez said.

NAIA is currently being managed by the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA). The airport’s operations and maintenance are expected to be handed over to the SMC-SAP & Co. Consortium, comprised of San Miguel Holdings Corp, RMM Asian Logistics Inc., RLW Aviation Development Inc., and Incheon International Airport Corp., in September.

Davao Oriental Rep. Cheeno Miguel Almario said airports were the “subconscious benchmark” of any country, as the airport environment adds to the travel experience.

“It is the last impression of any tourist that enters. Kasi (Because) before anybody gets to surf before anybody gets to enjoy our cuisine, the first thing that they have to go through is to the airport,” Almario said.

Lanao del Sur Rep. Zia Alonto Adiong said any initiative or move to upgrade airport services is always a welcome development, as he emphasized the importance of “first impressions” in airports in shaping the country’s image.

“So, let’s make our future foreign tourists when they set foot here in the Philippines, let’s make it memorable for them,” Adiong said.

House Assistant Majority Leader Raul Angelo Bongalon echoed Adiong’s sentiments, noting that anything unfavorable about the country’s airports can also be said about the Philippines.

“We want to be remembered as one of the best airports in the world. So, aalisin na natin ‘yung stigma na noong mga nakaraang taon lagi tayong napapasama sa may pinaka-worst airport in the world (So let’s remove the stigma in the past years that our airport is ranked among the worst airports in the world),” Bongalon said.

“So, with this, we are looking forward to and we are very excited about the best services that San Miguel Corporation is going to offer. And that is something to be proud of as a Filipino,” he added.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. earlier said the modernization of NAIA would not only lead to additional revenue for the government but would also provide convenience to passengers by increasing the facility’s current passenger capacity from 35 million a year to 62 million annually.

According to the Department of Transportation, once the NAIA modernization is complete, its runway capacity will increase by at least 48 air traffic movements at the peak hourly rate.

Additionally, the project is expected to generate PHP900 billion of earnings for the national government or about PHP36 billion annually throughout its 25-year concession period. (PNA)