The airports in the Philippines are the last point of contact before we fly to our overseas workplaces. Upon our return to our motherland, they will be the first ones we embrace. International flights originate or fly to cities such as Cebu, Iloilo, Clark, and Davao more frequently.
The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila, Philippines has been known to face several complaints from passengers.
A severe power outage disrupted air traffic control at the country’s largest airport on New Year’s Day, disrupting hundreds of flights and stranding tens of thousands of travelers, many of whom are outgoing and returning overseas Filipino workers.
While power has been restored, some travelers are still having trouble rebooking and continuing on. Airlines’ losses reached P100 million.
Typical passengers can easily pinpoint a problem area, even when some incidents were caused by mechanical or pilot errors (runway excursions or aircraft veering off the runway) or natural factors such as typhoons.
Common passenger complaints
Long waiting times
One of the main complaints is the long wait times at immigration, security checkpoints, and baggage reclaim.
Many passengers complain about the lack of clean and comfortable waiting areas, insufficient seating, and limited dining and shopping options. For example, some toilet stalls or escalators are marked as out of order and Internet connection is unreliable.
Inadequate signage and information
Poor signage and a lack of clear information on flight schedules and other important details make it difficult for some passengers to navigate the airport. While serving to offset this information gap, the public announcement system also pollutes the air and makes passengers uncomfortable.
Lost or damaged baggage
In some cases, passengers experience issues with lost or damaged baggage, which can be frustrating and time-consuming.
Poor air conditioning
Some areas of the airport, particularly during peak hours, can get very crowded and stuffy, with poor air conditioning causing discomfort for passengers.
Limited public transportation options
Airport passengers complain about the limited and unreliable public transportation options available. During tight layovers, some passengers have experienced confusion and inconvenience when having to transfer between terminals.
Inefficient security processes
Several passengers have expressed frustration with the security checks at NAIA, citing long lines and slow processing times.
The airport has experienced power outages and computer system failures from time to time, causing disruptions and inconveniences for passengers.
How to improve Ninoy Aquino International Airport
Increase airport capacity
Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) is often overcrowded, resulting in long lines and delays. The problem can be alleviated by adding more terminals, gates, and baggage carousels to the airport.
The NAIA’s infrastructure and facilities need to be upgraded and modernized. Among the improvements are the updating of the runway, taxiways, and aprons, as well as the improvement of lighting and signage.
Reduced delays and better passenger experiences can be achieved by improving NAIA’s operational efficiency. By streamlining check-in and baggage handling processes, as well as implementing more advanced security screening technology, this can be achieved.
- Streamlining processes: NAIA can streamline its processes to reduce delays and improve the flow of aircraft, passengers, baggage, immigration, and customs processes. This can include the implementation of automated check-in and baggage handling systems, the standardization of operating procedures, and the provision of real-time information to passengers.
- Upgrading infrastructure: NAIA can upgrade its infrastructure to improve the capacity and performance of the airport. This can include the construction of new terminal buildings, the upgrading of airfield facilities, and the improvement of ground transportation links.
- Improving communication: NAIA can improve communication between airport staff, airlines, and passengers to ensure that everyone is working together to optimize airport operations. This can include the use of real-time information systems and the establishment of regular forums for communication and collaboration.
- Enhancing security: NAIA can enhance its security systems and procedures to improve the safety and security of passengers, aircraft, and airport staff. This can include the implementation of state-of-the-art security technologies, the development of risk-based security plans, and the regular training and assessment of security personnel.
- Reducing waste and improving sustainability: NAIA can reduce waste and improve sustainability by implementing environmentally friendly practices and reducing energy and water usage. This can include the use of renewable energy sources, the implementation of waste reduction programs, and the provision of recycling facilities.
- Engaging with stakeholders: NAIA can engage with stakeholders, including airlines, passengers, and the local community, to understand their needs and priorities and to ensure that the airport is meeting their expectations. This can include the establishment of regular forums for consultation and the provision of regular feedback and complaint mechanisms.
Improve customer service
By providing passengers with more information and assistance, as well as addressing any complaints or issues promptly, the NAIA can improve its customer service.
- Provide real-time information: Providing passengers with real-time information about flight schedules, delays, and gate changes can help reduce frustration and confusion. This can be done through displays in the terminal, mobile apps, and updates from airport staff.
- Streamline processes: Streamlining processes such as check-in, security, and baggage handling can help reduce wait times and improve the flow of passengers. This can be achieved through the implementation of automation technology, the standardization of procedures, and the regular training and development of airport staff.
- Enhance passenger amenities: Providing passengers with high-quality amenities, such as comfortable seating, charging stations, and dining options, can help enhance the overall airport experience. This can include the development of dedicated rest areas and the provision of free Wi-Fi and entertainment options.
- Foster a positive culture: Fostering a positive and welcoming culture among airport staff can help improve the passenger experience. This can include the development of customer service training programs, the recognition of staff who provide exceptional service, and the provision of regular feedback mechanisms to allow passengers to voice their opinions and concerns.
- Address passenger complaints: Addressing passenger complaints in a timely and effective manner can help improve customer satisfaction and build trust. This can include the establishment of a complaint management system, the regular review of passenger feedback, and the provision of regular updates on the status of complaints and resolutions.
Passengers need easier access to buses, trains, and ferries from NAIA to other modes of transportation. Although NAIA might not be a long-term solution as new airports are being built nearby, a masterplan might cover the following:
- Road links: A well-developed road network is crucial for connecting NAIA with the rest of Metro Manila and the surrounding areas. This includes major highways and expressways, as well as local roads and thoroughfares that connect to the airport.
- Public transportation: Reliable and convenient public transportation options are important for connecting NAIA with the city center and other areas in Metro Manila. This includes buses, jeepneys, and taxis.
- Airport shuttle services: An airport shuttle service is a convenient way for passengers to travel between NAIA and their destination. This can be either a shared shuttle service or a private transfer, depending on the needs of the passenger.
- Parking facilities: Adequate parking facilities are important for passengers who are driving to the airport, either to drop off or pick up passengers or for long-term parking.
Develop a master plan
In addition to identifying the airport’s long-term vision and goals, a master plan should also include a comprehensive strategy to address the airport’s current and future challenges.
- Infrastructure improvements: A master plan should identify and prioritize infrastructure improvements needed to support the growth and development of NAIA. This can include the expansion of terminal buildings, the construction of new runways, the upgrading of airfield facilities, and the improvement of ground transportation links.
- Capacity planning: The master plan should include an analysis of current and future passenger demand and the capacity required to meet that demand. This should include projections for passenger numbers, aircraft movements, and other airport activities.
- Terminal layout and design: The master plan should include recommendations for the layout and design of terminal buildings, including the arrangement of check-in, security, and baggage areas, as well as the provision of retail and food and beverage concessions.
- Ground transportation: The master plan should include recommendations for the improvement of ground transportation links between NAIA and the surrounding areas, including roads, public transportation, and airport shuttle services.
- Environmental sustainability: The master plan should address environmental sustainability issues, including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the protection of wildlife habitats, and the management of waste and water resources.
- Technology upgrades: The master plan should include recommendations for the implementation of new technologies to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of airport operations, including automated systems for check-in, security, and baggage handling.
- Stakeholder engagement: The master plan should include a process for engaging with stakeholders, including passengers, airport staff, airlines, local communities, and government agencies, to ensure that their needs and concerns are taken into account in the planning and implementation of the master plan.
Increase transparency and accountability
The airport’s management should be more transparent and accountable to the public, and provide regular updates on the airport’s performance.
- Establishing clear policies and procedures: NAIA should have clear policies and procedures in place that outline how decisions are made and how operations are conducted. These policies should be publicly available and easily accessible to all stakeholders, including passengers, airlines, and airport staff.
- Improving communication: NAIA should establish regular channels of communication with stakeholders, including passengers, airlines, and airport staff. This can include regular newsletters, social media updates, and public forums where stakeholders can provide feedback and raise concerns.
- Enhancing data management: NAIA should improve its data management practices to ensure that information is accurate, up-to-date, and easily accessible to all stakeholders. This can include the use of automated systems for tracking and reporting data, as well as the development of a comprehensive data management policy.
- Implementing regular audits and evaluations: Regular audits and evaluations can be conducted to assess the performance of NAIA and identify areas for improvement. These audits should be conducted by independent experts and the results should be publicly available.
- Strengthening oversight and governance: NAIA should establish a strong governance structure that includes a board of directors and senior management team with clear lines of accountability. The board and management team should be responsible for overseeing the operation of the airport, making decisions, and ensuring that the airport operates in a transparent and accountable manner.
- Encouraging feedback and complaints: NAIA should encourage passengers, airlines, and airport staff to provide feedback and raise complaints about airport operations. This can be done through the establishment of a formal feedback and complaints process, as well as regular surveys and customer satisfaction metrics.
By taking these steps, NAIA can improve transparency and accountability, enhance the confidence of stakeholders in the airport, and ultimately improve the overall quality of the airport experience for passengers.
Involve the private sector
For the airport’s management and development to succeed, the private sector should participate to bring in new ideas and expertise and to attract more investment.
- Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs): NAIA can partner with private companies to finance, design, build, and operate airport infrastructure and facilities. This can include the construction of new terminal buildings, the upgrading of airfield facilities, and the improvement of ground transportation links.
- Concession agreements: NAIA can enter into concession agreements with private companies to provide services such as retail and food and beverage concessions, parking management, ground transportation, and security services.
- Sponsorship and advertising: Private companies can provide financial support to NAIA through sponsorship and advertising arrangements, including naming rights, signage, and promotional opportunities.
- Technology upgrades: Private companies can provide technical expertise and investment to upgrade the technology systems used by NAIA, including the implementation of automated systems for check-in, security, and baggage handling.
- Consultancy services: Private companies can provide consultancy services to NAIA, including master planning, capacity planning, environmental sustainability assessments, and stakeholder engagement.
Invest in technology
By investing in technology such as mobile boarding passes and self-service check-in kiosks, the airport can improve the passenger experience.
- Automation: NAIA can invest in automation technology to streamline processes, reduce delays, and improve the flow of passengers, baggage, and aircraft. This can include the implementation of automated check-in, security, and baggage handling systems, as well as the use of automated gate systems and flight information displays.
- Digital passenger services: NAIA can invest in digital passenger services to enhance the passenger experience and improve the flow of information. This can include the implementation of mobile apps for flight information, check-in, and baggage tracking, as well as the provision of Wi-Fi and charging stations throughout the airport.
- Security technology: NAIA can invest in security technology to improve the safety and security of passengers, aircraft, and airport staff. This can include the implementation of biometric identification systems, X-ray and metal detection equipment, and video surveillance systems.
- Energy efficiency and sustainability technology: NAIA can invest in energy efficiency and sustainability technology to reduce costs and environmental impact. This can include the use of energy-efficient lighting, the implementation of renewable energy sources, and the provision of waste reduction and recycling programs.
- Predictive analytics and real-time data: NAIA can invest in predictive analytics and real-time data systems to improve decision-making, reduce delays, and enhance operational efficiency. This can include the use of predictive analytics to forecast demand, the implementation of real-time flight information displays, and the provision of real-time data feeds to airlines and airport staff.
Improve the overall environment
As an airport, it should improve the overall environment with more comfortable seating, improved lighting, and more lounges, shops, and restaurants.
Benefits of implementing the proposed improvements
The improvement of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) would bring many benefits to both passengers and the country as a whole.
Improved passenger experience
An improved NAIA would provide passengers with a more comfortable and efficient airport experience, with modern facilities, shorter wait times, and better signage and navigation. This would make traveling through NAIA more convenient and less stressful for passengers.
With the expansion and upgrading of airport facilities, NAIA would be able to accommodate a larger number of passengers, reducing the risk of overcrowding and improving the flow of passengers through the airport.
Enhanced safety and security
Improved infrastructure and technology would enhance the safety and security of NAIA, making it a safer and more secure place for passengers and staff.
A better-functioning airport would help to attract more visitors to the Philippines, boosting the country’s tourism industry and contributing to economic growth.
An improved NAIA would enhance the competitiveness of the Philippines as a regional hub for aviation, attracting more airlines and passengers to the country.
The upgrading of NAIA would also create job opportunities for workers in the construction, engineering, and airport services sectors, providing a boost to the local economy.
In conclusion, the improvement of NAIA would bring many benefits to both passengers and the country, helping to enhance the passenger experience, increase capacity, boost tourism, and create jobs. These benefits would help to drive economic growth and make the Philippines a more attractive destination for visitors and investors.