Philippine Department of Transportation defends NAIA despite ‘unfavorable’ ratings

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In the wake of a study that allegedly showed unfavorable ratings and unsubstantiated claims about the country’s main gateway, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Saturday (May 28) emphasized the significant improvements made at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) under the Duterte administration.

Bounce Luggage Storage conducted a study that combined reviews from the blog businessclass.com and Skytrax.

Bounce Luggage Storage has locations in the United States and Asia, but none in the Philippines.

A thorough DOTr scan on the businessclass.com website revealed no NAIA reviews or ratings.

“It is also unknown when exactly the rating was done but a check with the feedbacks concerning the NAIA were dated 2020 as the latest, with most reviews and complaints coming from transiting international passengers who did not use the business class lounges,” the DOTr claimed in a statement.

According to the survey, NAIA received the lowest marks in three categories: number of destinations, on-time performance, and rating from Skytrax, a UK-based firm that operates an airline and airport review and ranking site.

The number of destinations is established by bilateral and air service discussions, according to the DOTr.

The agency went on to say: “It is also important to note that NAIA is a destination airport and not a hub airport, which is why there are not many business class lounges and onward destinations. Passengers using business class lounges are those passing through for brief business trips or for stopovers to take their onward/connecting flight to their final destinations. Airlines primarily determine their needs to put up business class lounges for their customers. Business-class lounges abound in hub airports, which NAIA is not,”

Similarly, the DOTr stated that it is “highly implausible” that “on-time performance led to NAIA’s allegedly lowest rating.”

The Air Carriers Association of the Philippines reported to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) that the airlines’ running On-Time Performance (OTP) average was 83 percent in the last quarter of 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, a far cry from the previous OTP of 40 percent in 2016.

NAIA received a three-star rating on the Skytrax website, denoting “fair to average” personnel service levels and production facilities.

According to the website, Skytrax assigns grades of “1-Star to 5-Star” to up to 800 client-facing sectors of airport products and services based on the end-to-end customer experience.

DOTr said in a statement that the airport was ranked among the top ten most improved airports in the world in 2018, according to the 2018 World Airport Awards, also performed by Skytrax. They also added that they made more modifications to their facilities, all aimed at improving the overall passenger experience, since then.

According to the DOTr, under President Rodrigo Duterte and Secretary Art Tugade, the NAIA was able to root out long-standing concerns that had stained the airport’s reputation for years, such as the infamous “laglag-bala” (placing bullet), extortion scheme, and “bukas-bagahe” (bullet-planting) (baggage pilferage).

The statement also read: “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 runway,”

DOTr and Manila International Airport Authority will continue to improve the airport facilities and services to ensure a safe, reliable, convenient, and comfortable travel experience for the air riding public, despite all of the improvements already in place and more on the way, according to the agency.

However, the agency ensures that the review will motivate them to do more and better. Despite setbacks, complaints, and obstacles, it is obvious that the country’s primary gateway – the Ninoy Aquino International Airport – has come a long way from its previous state. KMB/Expat Media


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