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DOTr disputes NAIA ranking as worst business class airport

Richmond Mercurio - The Philippine Star
DOTr disputes NAIA ranking as worst business class airport
The DOTr and NAIA-operator Manila International Airport Authority in a joint statement highlighted the improvements they have undertaken in the past six years for the country’s main gateway.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has called a study ranking the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) as the world’s worst business class airport “unsubstantiated,” saying that the gateway has come a long way under the Duterte administration.

The DOTr and NAIA-operator Manila International Airport Authority in a joint statement highlighted the improvements they have undertaken in the past six years for the country’s main gateway.

“While the study shows unfavorable rating and unsubstantiated claims about NAIA, it cannot be denied that significant improvements have been carried out in the country’s main gateway in the past six years under the Duterte administration,” the statement said.

The DOTr said under Secretary Arthur Tugade, the agency has stamped out longstanding issues that have tarnished the reputation of the NAIA for years, such as the infamous “laglag-bala” extortion scheme and “bukas-bagahe” or baggage pilferage scheme.

“We should also not turn a blind eye to the remarkable developments reached that aim to improve the services at the airport, such as the rehabilitation and upgrade of the airport facilities, including its terminals and runways,” it said.

The DOTr said more projects are still in the pipeline to improve the airport’s facilities and its services to ensure a safe, reliable, convenient and comfortable travel experience to the air riding public.

“Despite challenges, setbacks and criticisms, it is undeniable that the country’s main gateway – the Ninoy Aquino International Airport – has come a long way from where it was before,” the agency said.

NAIA has been named the worst airport in the world for business class travelers by global luggage storage app Bounce, recording a score of 0.88 out of 10.

Bounce said the study looked at the biggest airports in the world by passenger volume, analyzing them on various factors such as the number of lounges, number of destinations that the airport serves, annual on-time flights and the airport’s Skytrax rating.

It said the NAIA got the worst score in three categories: its number of destinations, on-time performance and rating from Skytrax.

The DOTr, for its part, said Bounce is a luggage storage business that operates in several airports in the US and Asia, but has no operation whatsoever in the Philippines.

In response to the claims in the study, the DOTr said NAIA is a destination airport and not a hub airport, which is why there are not many business class lounges and onward destinations.

“The number of destinations is dictated by and determined through bilateral and air services negotiations,” the agency said.

“Passengers using business class lounges are those passing thru for brief business trips or for stop over to take their onward/connecting flight to their final destinations. Airlines primarily determine their need to put up business class lounges for their customers. Business class lounges abound in hub airports, which NAIA is not,” it said.

The DOTr also noted that it is highly implausible that the on-time performance contributed to the NAIA’s supposedly worst rating.

“To recall, during the last quarter of 2019 (before the COVID-19 pandemic hit), the Air Carriers Association of the Philippines reported that the airlines’ running on-time performance average was 83 percent – a far cry from the previous OTP of 40 percent in 2016,” it said.

“Lastly, the Skytrax website showed that NAIA had a 3-star rating. The 3-star rating is applied where staff service standards or the production facilities are fair or average,” the agency said.

The DOTr said NAIA has made it to the top 10 of the world’s most improved airports based on the 2018 World Airport Awards, also conducted by Skytrax.

“Since then, we have already undertaken more improvements in our facilities, all geared to improve the entire passenger experience of a traveler,” it said – Rudy Santos

NAIA

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