Christmas rush in December 2017 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 in Pasay City, Philippines.
PNA/Avito Dalan
Praises and blames: What people are saying about NAIA's 'most-improved' badge
Dan Manglinong (Philstar.com) - March 22, 2018 - 7:13pm

MANILA, Philippines — After what was once dubbed the "worst airport in the world" maked the jump to "10th most improved," many credited the administration but others remained unconvinced.

Aviation consultancy firm Skytrax recognized recent developments at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, prompting administration figures and supporters to hail President Rodrigo Duterte's incumbency.

The Department of Tourism posted a Facebook banner announcing NAIA's inclusion in the list, at the same time congratulating Eddie Monreal for the achievement. Monreal is the general manager of the Manila International Airport Authority, which operates NAIA.

Monreal has in turn cited the cooperation of stakeholders in laying down the foundation for the rise in quality of services and facilities at the country's largest air terminal.

Among the noted improvements noticed by airport patrons since the beginning of Monreal's tenure are better lighting, cleaner restrooms and higher quality of transportation options. Monreal allowed regular white taxis to pick up passengers leaving the airport.

He also reportedly oversaw the removal of unslotted flights, easing the pileup of delayed flights and enforcing more on-time departures and arrivals.

Brief history of decay and recovery

Duterte's supporters decried the previous administration's apparent failure to raise the standard of service at the premier gateway to the Philippines.

During the administration of Noynoy Aquino, airport authorities frequently found themselves the subject of public vitriol following yearly appearances in "worst airports" lists.

From 2011 to 2013, NAIA was voted as the worst airport in the world by numerous polls. Faith in airport authorities' drive for improvement was revived in 2014 when the airport managed to improve to a derisive but much more acceptable "fourth worst," and eventually make its way out of the list in 2015.

Photo released by the Department of Transportation under then President Noynoy Aquino showing an improved NAIA in 2015, when it was removed from the list of the world's worst airports by travel site Guide to Sleeping in Airports. gov.ph

But things came to a head in 2016 when several fliers found themselves either delayed or detained after the "laglag bala" scheme exploded. Hope for safe and efficient passage in the airport dimmed as reports of travelers being detained by authorities after discovering discarded bullets in their bags graced headlines daily.

In 2017, a different airport earned the reputation for inefficiency.

'Most improved' for how long? Some in wait-and-see mode

Despite the collective jubilation over the NAIA's crowning moment, some have expressed reservation.

Current affairs commentator Manuel Quezon III, former undersecretary of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office during the Aquino administration, warned of impending difficulty in a tweet posted Thursday.

Quezon's comment is in reference to the recent eviction of the Miascor Aviation Services from NAIA after six of its employees were charged with theft. They were reportedly caught pilfering through the luggage of OFW Jovenil de la Cruz.

Employees of the ground-handling contractor have staged protests following the termination of its contract with the MIAA.

EDDIE MONREAL MANILA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AUTHORITY NINOY AQUINO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
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