Makati business group bucks NAIA sale proposal

By Ma. Elisa P. Osorio, The Philippine Star

Posted at Dec 20 2011 07:54 AM | Updated as of Dec 20 2011 06:10 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Makati Business Development Council (MBDC) has expressed its disapproval to the proposed sale of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Likewise, the group said the airport should not be transferred since its current site remains the most convenient location.

In a statement, MBDC said it firmly objects to the sale of NAIA and advocates for the international airport to stay where it is now.

The group said it believes that NAIA is still the most convenient site for an international airport, for businessmen/professionals/tourists, due to its proximity to Metro Manila, particularly Makati, the country’s center for business and commerce.

It also expressed doubts on the feasibility of transferring NAIA to Clark, Pampanga due to its distance from the central business districts in Metro Manila.

The MBDC further pointed out that to reach Clark, one has to cross Bulacan which might pose problems due to flooding. Even with the existence of a high-speed rail connecting the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport to Metro Manila, it will still be inconvenient for travelers considering that Clark is a good way off the cities where they usually conduct business in, the group added.

Furthermore, it cited that majority of the tourists who enter the Philippines visit Metro Manila first for their business/tourism-related trips because it houses high-end hotels, conference venues, financial and medical institutions.

The MBDC reiterates that it is firm on its position that selling NAIA is not an option, that NAIA should be retained and modernized, and that the government should take serious actions to make the country’s premier gateway comparable to the best airports abroad.

But before this, the group said government should first settle its dispute with the Philippine International Air Terminals Corp. (PIATCO) over the ownership of NAIA Terminal 3.

The MBDC also recommends that NAIA should be improved, refurbished and modernized to create better impression with its clients. To be able to do this, the government must provide NAIA with state-of-the-art facilities and allow it to upgrade its equipment for the betterment of its service, thus making flying to and from Manila a worthwhile travel experience.

It must ensure that the clients are afforded with the highest convenience by interconnecting Terminals 1, 2 and 3 through people-movers, walkways and shuttle buses or monorails through a build-operate-transfer scheme. It would also be convenient to dedicate a shuttle service that is harmonized with flight schedules, so as to bring the customers to the central business district of Makati City. Not only will this enable businessmen and tourists to get to their destinations in no time, but also to afford them more time for last minute conferences with their business associates.

Establishing satellite check-in counters in central business districts, like Makati, possibly in hotels and shopping malls, will also cut down time in the airport. The National Government should also consider opening NAIA 2 to other international carriers other than Philippine Airlines (PAL).

“We further suggest that an efficient road system be established to improve the traffic condition on roads leading to and from the airport. The government should also look at the possibility of expansion of the airport by acquiring lands around or within the vicinity of NAIA,” the group said.