MANILA - Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya on Tuesday checked on the status of the on-going rehabilitation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport-Terminal 1, which was previously tagged as the "world's worst airport".
The rehabilitation project, worth P1.3 billion, started January this year and was initially planned to be completed January 2015.
But the target for the completion of the rehab project has been pushed back to March 2015.
The completion date has been delayed due to the delivery of materials/equipment and unresolved technical issues which were only discovered during rehabilitation.
According to Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Vicente Guerzon Jr, retrofitting and upgrade of Terminal 1 is at 40 percent and will be 95 percent complete by March.
The remaining 5 percent are minor technical issues which will not greatly affect the terminal's operation. But he assures the public that the contractor, DMCI, can complete it on the target date.
"Marami pong malalaking equipment ang inimport ng contractor dito eh nadelay po ito ng konti, maski yung pag-alis sa customs nagkaroon ng delay," said Guerzon.
The entrance to the departure area is undergoing a facelift. Inside the lobby area, the ceiling features LED lights and water sprinkler system. Half of the ceiling is still wrapped with green construction net.
The area also features the new flight display monitor.
Buckling restraint braces were installed. This part of the structural rehab took up a lot of time to make sure that it can serve as a protection of the terminal against seismic movement.
Passengers are queuing at the well-lighted check-in counters to match the new look of the terminal.
Guerzon added that the transfer of five big airlines to Terminal 3 has greatly helped in decongesting Terminal 1. With the transfer, Terminal 1 serves 4.5 million passengers annually, which meets the original design capacity of the terminal.
The temperature inside the rehabilitated terminal is 5 degrees Celsius despite the big crowd during the inspection. Three out 4 chillers have been installed. Aside from these, the 20 out of 36 air handling units were also installed in the so-called "hotspots" in the terminal.
Abaya also inspected the dignitaries' lounge which will serve as the holding area for APEC participants next year.
It is fully carpeted and well-lit with chandeliers and full glass overlooking the airport runway.
The comfort rooms,which were usually criticized in the past, were also rehabilitated.
But some passengers are not yet satisfied with what they see. A balikbayan from New York said the comfort rooms still need repairs.
A couple flying to Paris complained that they can't find a comfortable place to wait for their flight scheduled to depart at 11 p.m.
and stores or snack bars to kill time.
Although some passengers are hopeful that the rehabilitation would mean being not on the list of worst airports in the world.
For Abaya, the rehabilitation is going well.
"Dating military ako, wala akong taste eh mababaw kaligayahan ko, so for me it is nice and tingin ko for anybody else," he said.
"It's much better and we can still improve on the interiors but structurally the basic component of a good airport is there," he added.
He noted that there are some areas which need improvement such as the planned location for the refund area for overseas Filipino workers if the integration of terminal fees is pursued.
"You have to swing to the right side when you will go the left side. Parang sabi ko we have to put on the shoes of the passenger kaya sabi ko baka pwedeng ilagay siya sa sentro or even prior to that para sa pasahero mabilis pulso mo pag nasa airport think about their refund, that it should be as easy as possible," said Abaya.
The inspection lasted for an hour and a half.
Meanwhile, aside from the rehabilitation, the terminal is also busy preparing for the influx of passengers this holiday season. Security is at its maximum deployment and all gates are opened.
MIAA has asked the airlines and Bureau of Immigration to make sure that all counters are manned.