The online news portal of TV5
MANILA - The ongoing rehabilitation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 will be finalized before May 2015, or a few months' later than its projected completion of January 2015, but the delay is acceptable, said Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) Secretary Emilio Abaya.
Abaya revealed this after conducting an ocular inspection on the progress of the billion-peso rehabilitation project Tuesday, and expressed satisfaction with the work thus far. He also issued directives to improve services at the airport right away, but stressed that a slight delay in completion would be fine with the agency given that the terminal is quite old and certain unforeseen problems or defects could arise in the course of the rehabilitation.
Abaya arrived at the Terminal 1 around 11 a.m. Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) Senior Assistant General Manager Vicente Guerzon, Terminal 1 manager Dante Basanta and DMCI senior project manager Alfredo Juan de Villa updated him on ongoing renovations.
Abaya said that he is satisfied enough with the development of NAIA 1: the “basic component of a good airport is there; it is much better and I think we can improve the interior by working with interior designers but structurally the good airport is there."
He noted that Terminal 1 is structurally equipped with buckling resistance braces, a metal diagonally erected on building posts that can withstand natural disasters such as earthquakes. Most contractors use these in new buildings.
During the inspection, Abaya directed Terminal 1 manager Dante Basanta to add more lights in every toilet and immediately repair the escalator at the pre-departure area which outbound passengers use in going to the departure lounge with their hand- carry luggage.
He also inspected the newly built airline counters with new conveyor belts and digital check-in computers.
The NAIA Terminal 1 repairs began on January 20, 2014, and should be completed in January next year; however, Abaya admitted that some technical problems had
generated delays and said that a 45-days delay in a multimillion project like this is tolerable, considering that one never knows what specific defects are inside a 30-year old structure like this.
“Unlike with a new building being erected, everything is in the plan. But in an improvement project, certain things may surface that were not in the plan," Abaya added.
“It is such a big facility, you can never pin down the final date of completion especially when you are rehabilitating,” Abaya said.
When asked about his reaction to the latest online survey listing NAIA terminal 1 as the fourth worst airport, he quickly reacted that the survey from the very start was inaccurate.
He pointed out that NAIA terminal 1 can only accommodate 13 million passengers annually, but the online survey stated that the old terminal was accommodating 32 million passengers a year.
But he stressed that what is really unacceptable is the survey's description of the airport personel as rude and undisciplined.
“For the first time you are seeing somebody describing Filipinos as being rude, disrespectful and discourteous. Would you accept that we are rude as a people? Anyone, even media will not accept Filipinos being branded as discourteous,” Abaya asked.
Tacloban airport updates
Asked on the progress of the Tacloban airport rehabilitation, Abaya said the 2.1-kilometer runway rehabilitation will be fully operational by either December 21 or 22 this year just in time for the arrival of Pope Francis on January 17,2015.
He said that by then, the CAAP- operated Tacloban airport will be operational for bigger-single-aisles aircraft like Airbus A320 or Boeing B737 jets, allowing more travelers to be accommodated on flights.
Currently, only turbo propeller-driven aircraft are allowed to operate due to the ongoing repair of the runway; with Cebu Pacific using ATR-type aircraft that can only accommodate a maximum of 72 passengers, and PALExpress with their Q3 aircraft, which can only accommodate a maximum of 54 passengers.