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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Poe backs Naia privatization, cites MCIA model

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SEN. Grace Poe pressed for the privatization of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Monday, stressing that the proposal was “not only [one] whose time has come, but also well past its due.”

In a statement, Sen. Poe, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Services, lamented that the delayed decision had caused the country and aviation sector to miss so many opportunities, while suffering a black eye for persistent problems.

The lawmaker said, “we could have averted the glitches that messed up the flight schedules and inconvenienced thousands of travelers had the modernization of the airport’s air traffic control and operations been undertaken years ago.”

Poe made the remarks after the  Department of Transportation (DOTr) submitted to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) a proposal to privatize the operations of the premier airport.

The proposal requires enlisting a private concessionaire to operate the country’s main gateway, Poe said, noting that  it was “one of our priority recommendations in the committee report on the NAIA power glitches.”

She was referring to the outcome of the hearings conducted by senators after the January 1, 2023 glitch that disrupted nearly 300 flights and stranded tens of thousands of travelers. A similar, albeit smaller, glitch occurred on May 1.

“Like any concessionaire, we need to ensure that this private entity lives up to its commitment to improve air services in the country,” the senator said, stressing that “the government should require an accomplishment timeline, performance matrix, and penalties for any default.”

She noted that “we have seen how the transformation of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport [MCIA] by a private consortium and its improved services and facilities have positively impacted on tourism and passenger experience.”

The senator said “this could be a template for the modernization of the NAIA operations.”

Moreover, she said that,  “It is time to start fixing our country’s premier gateway. Filipinos and foreign travelers deserve a better airport.”

Image credits: Michael Edwards | Dreamstime.com

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