"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Don't let NAIA-3 go to waste 'Use facility to boost domestic tourism'

MANILA, Philippines -- In a bid to boost local tourism, Senator Richard Gordon toured the mothballed Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 (NAIA 3) on Tuesday to check on repair and completion work in the facility and encourage airport officials to pursue plans to partially open it for domestic operations.

During his hour-long inspection, Gordon got a peek of a trial run of the terminal set for July, where the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) aims to host flights of local carriers Cebu Pacific Air and Philippine Airlines' budget brand PAL Express.

While designed for international operations, NAIA-3 is being configured to partially open for a few domestic flights as a test run, according to MIAA officials. During Monday's tour, monitors at the check-in counters sported logos of PAL and Cebu Pacific Air.

MIAA is set to hold Friday a simulation of passenger processes -- check-in, security screening, baggage claim -- at the terminal with the participating airlines, said airport development and corporate affairs chief Tirso Serrano.

"Let's open the terminal, and then investigate. Let's not leave it like this -- useless. If we don't use it, it will just waste away," Gordon told reporters on Tuesday.

"With rising fuel prices, I anticipate that international tourism will lessen, airlines are now charging for baggage, so we have to focus on domestic tourism. The opening of this terminal for domestic flights will be good for domestic tourism," he said.
Air-conditioning was still off, and heat and humidity worse than outside temperatures when Gordon was taken around NAIA 3 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, the fifth time MIAA opened the terminal for outsider inspection in 2008.

Congress' oversight and transportation committees earlier visited NAIA 3 several times, and the Joint Foreign Chambers visited the terminal most recently for a private tour.

During the tour, MIAA General Manager took Gordon through both the departure and arrival routes. The senator saw the check-in counters, the yellow immigration counters, and boarding gates where seats have been arranged.

At the ground level, MIAA officials showed Gordon the arrival route from the tube to baggage claim. There, workers were seen plastering minor cracks on walls, atop scaffolding while fixing the terminal's collapsed ceiling, and unloading trucks filled with other construction materials.

"That's almost finished, 85 percent complete," said Serrano when asked about the collapsed ceiling.

MIAA twice postponed planned openings of the terminal in 2006 and 2007 because of structural defects traced to the March 27, 2006 incident, where a ceiling at the terminal's arrival area collapsed.

The agency's private engineering consultants advised against 2007's planned partial opening because of "life safety risks" found around the terminal, a concern that MIAA officials said were being remedied.

Gordon: Don't let NAIA-3 go to waste 'Use facility to boost domestic tourism'
By Tarra Quismundo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:35:00 06/17/2008