NAIA voted worst airport in Asia, ranks 5th in world
MANILA, Philippines – “A bombed out ruin,” “a cattle yard only worse,” and “filthy toilets” were just some words that travelers used to describe the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, voted one of the world’s 10 worst airports and the worst in Asia for 2010 by an interactive website.
The website, “the Guide to Sleeping in Airports,” ranked NAIA, particularly Terminal 1, fifth worst in the world preceded by two French airports, including the Paris Charles De Gaulle, and the Los Angeles and Moscow airports.
In the website’s list of worst airports in Asia, NAIA Terminal ranked No. 1, followed by New Delhi, Beijing, Bombay, Islamabad, Hanoi, Chennai, Jakarta, Bangalore and Denpasar.
The ranking was based on reviews of air travelers who complained of, among others, “safety concerns, lack of comfortable seating, rude staff, hostile security, poor facilities, no [or few] services to pass the time, bribery, and general hassles of being in the airport.”
Two lists of the best and the worst airports are updated annually by the website (http://sleepinginairports.net), which travel agent Donna McSherry started in 1996.
NAIA actually moved two places up in the worst airports list. In 2009, it was ranked seventh. Two other Asian airports made it to the worst list in 2010, both from India, in New Delhi and Bombay at sixth and eighth, respectively.
On the other hand, the world’s three best airports in 2010, according to the website, were also in Asia: Singapore Changi, Seoul Incheon, and Hong Kong, the same top three the previous year.
Most complaints about NAIA concerned the old Terminal 1, which hosts all international flights except those by Philippine Airlines, which uses Terminal 2, and Cebu Pacific, Air Philippines, and All Nippon Airways, which uses Terminal 3.
A reviewer named Brenty said of NAIA: “It has to be experienced to be believed. Think of a bombed out ruin and you’ll get some idea. It’s like a cattle yard only worse. Toilets filthy. No seating once you get thru customs [maybe 40 seats for a thousand passengers].”
“Bribery and corruption in this airport is rife and the scams start the minute you walk off the plane,” said another who called himself Mecanix.
The website, however, did acknowledge that “there is hope at this airport if you go to Terminal 3 where it is clean, spacious and has Internet connection.”
Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Jose Angel Honrado said he respected the feedback from travelers, but added that he hoped the general public would see the improvements at NAIA.
“We are aware of the deficiencies. We really appreciate the comments and we’re trying to correct these things. But please understand that this will take time,” he said.
He also encouraged critics of NAIA to visit Terminal 1 again and take note of some of the upgrades. He said they should understand that renovating the 30-year-old terminal was not an easy thing.
Honrado noted efforts to renovate the rest rooms at Terminal 1 and plans to put in “a new carpet.” He also said coordination with immigration and customs offices would hopefully eradicate the bribery menace.
In the next few years, he said “definitely” all international flights would be moving to Terminal 3 in spite of legal troubles involving the claim of its builder, the Philippine International Air Terminals Co., which is seeking a compensation claim against the government.
Honrado said the government clearly had the mandate to operate Terminal 3, and he saw no reason to put off plans to develop it until it became fully operational within “one and a half years.” He, however, added that Terminal 1 would still likely be retained for “spillover” flights.
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