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Government needs to do more to improve Naia’s image–Abaya

The country’s premier gateway may have shed its image as among the world’s worst airports—at least according to online travel site Guide to Sleeping in Airports—but the government still has a lot more room for improvement, a Cabinet official admitted.

Over the weekend, the travel site released its latest survey of the best and worst airports in the world, and surprisingly, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) has been erased from the losers’ list.

“While we are pleased to hear that international travelers no longer rate Naia among the world’s worst, there is obviously still a lot for us to do. Having fully opened Terminal 3 and substantially refurbishing Terminal 1 after decades of neglect, our next focus is decongesting the runway,” Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio A. Abaya said on Thursday.

He explained that although it took the government two years to unravel the legal complications that prevented Naia 3 from fully operating, its resolution paved the way for the transfer of 3.5 million annual passengers from the run-down, overcapacity Terminal 1 to the more modern Terminal 3 building in 2014.

“With Terminal 1 restored to its design capacity of 4.5 million yearly passengers, major rehabilitation was undertaken beginning in 2014, most notably through structural retrofitting, which ensured the continued safety and integrity of the facility, and the improvement of the mechanical, electrical and fire-protection systems,” he said.

Meanwhile, three regional aviation hubs made it to list of top 30 best airports in Asia: Mactan-Cebu International Airport landed at 18th place; Iloilo Airport was ranked 21st; and Clark International Airport snagged the 24th place.

Mactan-Cebu is now being recognized for its vastly improved services and facilities, after evident upgrades were implemented by GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp.

“This is just the beginning of our airport-modernization efforts. The coming years will certainly be exciting as world-class terminals will rise in Mactan-Cebu and Clark; a new international airport will be opened in Panglao and a vastly improved airport will be launched in Puerto Princesa; and the Davao, Iloilo, Bacolod and Laguindingan airports will be  expanded and their operations upgraded,” Abaya said.

The development of the Mactan-Cebu airport is being implemented through the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Program of the Aquino administration. The modernization of the regional airports are also included in the pipeline of projects under the PPP scheme.

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