Aquino says 'stopgap' plan to improve NAIA-1 being readied

By Cathy Rose A. Garcia,

Posted at Nov 04 2011 03:18 PM | Updated as of Nov 06 2011 05:28 AM

MANILA, Philippines - A new plan to improve the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 (NAIA-1), dubbed by a website as the "world's worst airport," will be presented to President Benigno Aquino on Tuesday next week.

During the YouTube World View live interview on Friday, Aquino admitted the new plan is only a stopgap measure, as the government seeks an alternative to the aging NAIA-1.

"It's a 30-year-old structure. It has suffered the ravages of time. A plan for improving it aesthetically and structurally will be presented to me by Tuesday next week. But it will be a stopgap measure for the next 4 or 5 years," Aquino said, in response to a question sent by a YouTube user regarding the government's plans to improve the airport.

NAIA-1 was ranked by the website The Guide to Sleeping in Airports as the world’s worst airport this year due to poor facilities, bribery and security concerns.

Aquino said the airport, named after late father Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr., is "valuable" to him personally and a historical landmark. Senator Aquino was assassinated on the tarmac of the then-named Manila International Airport in 1983.

The President noted NAIA-1 is already hitting its maximum capacity, which may affect his administration's goal of 10 million tourist arrivals.

"We are fast reaching the point where it is totally saturated. I think the whole complex is designed for 32 million arrivals... It is now approaching 30 million. It's so built up that it would take a lot of expropriation proceedings, delaying the whole process of getting our new target of getting 10 million tourists in the country," he said.

Alternatives to the NAIA-1 are being considered, but Aquino did not mention these.

Earlier, Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas said the government is planning a P500-million facelift of the NAIA-1. 

The government is also considering the sale of NAIA-1 for $2.5 billion, which will be used to create a bigger airport in Clark, Pampanga.