PH airport issues scrutinized in Senate probe

PH airport issues scrutinized in Senate probe

FROM broken escalators to faulty seats, malfunctioning air conditioning units, and flights delayed or canceled—these are just some of the issues that have greeted passengers, whether local or foreign, in the Philippines main airport – NAIA.

Even at regional airports like the Iloilo International Airport, passengers also criticize broken facilities and poor service.

Senate President Miguel Zubiri questioned, in a Senate inquiry, who would want to visit the Philippines if that is what greets them?

“As it stands today, our airports do not seem to do justice to what our beautiful country has to offer. They are often dirty, hot, with facilities in disrepair, and lacking in service, whether domestic or international,” according to Senator Miguel Zubiri, Senate President.

“Let us not embarrass our country with these kinds of shortcomings as public servants. We cannot subject them to this level of inefficiency and these low standards of service,” said Zubiri.

Senate urges faster implementation of Public-Private Partnership Projects in airports

In response, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines’ (CAAP) steps to address the problems in the country’s airports were scrutinized at the hearing.

One of the questions raised by senators is the reason behind the delays in the projects to improve airports like the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and Iloilo International Airport under the Public-Private Partnership.

“If you cannot handle it, if there are problems with procurement, if there are issues with releasing funds, for God’s sake, let’s speed up the processes and give it to the private sector, PPPs that will run the projects. So, what is causing all these delays?” Zubiri added.

“We know that there are pending PPP proposals for that. I don’t know whats taking so long for these to be decided. Obviously, the government can’t handle all of these. So, what is hindering us from granting PPP projects to a capable conglomerate that can deliver?” stated Senator Grace Poe, Republic of the Philippines.

DOTr: NAIA projects under Public-Private Partnership to begin in September

In a press conference on Wednesday, the DOTr provided updates on this matter.

According to Transportation Undersecretary Roberto Lim, the implementation process of PPP projects at the Manila International Airport is already underway.

A steering committee has been formed for the smooth transition and operation of these projects.

“We had established a joint steering committee composed of the government and the concessionaire in order to address the transition issues. We expect the hand over to take place on or before September 14,” said Usec. Roberto Lim, Department of Transportation stressed.

But even before September arrives, some projects have already been identified by the DOTr and the San Miguel Corporation, such as the construction of an OFW lounge at NAIA Terminal 3, expansion of passenger areas, and facilities for MIAA employees like a new cafeteria and lockers.

DOTr: Rehabilitation and beautification of regional airports to be under Public-Private Partnership Program

Regional airports like Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental and airports in Bohol, Puerto Princesa, Kalibo, and Davao will also undergo rehabilitation and beautification under the PPP.

The DOTr has completed the publication of the concessionaire agreement and bidding for the Cagayan de Oro Airport.

For the Iloilo International Airport, negotiations with the Villar Group are expected to be completed in September, which also has an unsolicited proposal.

“After which we will schedule that again, the same process. Issue an invitation to the public, come up with the instruction to bidder, come up with the concession agreement for the comparative challenge to happen. So, if everything happens on schedule, we are hopeful that the award could be made for early next year for Iloilo,” Lim addedd.

Lim added that other airports are being considered for the Public-Private Partnership.

To ensure that no airport is left behind in the country, the agency is studying the grouping of airports for PPP.

“Part of the strategy that we are looking at is how to bundle, how many, and which ones to bundle to make it attractive enough to be offered for PPP,” Lim said.

“We will adopt the so called sweet and sour approach where we combined the juice meaty profitable airports with developmental ones so that that the development is evenly distributed in different territories,” Lim added.

The Department of Tourism has emphasized the need to improve the country’s airports, which serve as the first and last impressions of tourists.

“The accessibility of our destinations hinges on efficiency and capacity of our airports. Therefore, ensuring that our airports meet global standards of excellence is absolute and critical importance if we are to increase the competitiveness of our country in terms of tourism,” according to Secretary Christina Garcia-Frasco, Department of Tourism.


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