Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) is no longer one of the worst in the world, according to a survey by travel website sleepinginairports.net.
In the site’s latest “Guide To Sleeping In Airports,” the international hub is no longer included among the 20 worst in the world, nor in Asia’s bottom five.
Last year, NAIA was named as the fifth worst in the world.
This was largely due to the issue of the “laglag-bala” or planted bullet scam.
This lucrative form of extortion saw custom officers claiming to find bullets in passengers’ luggage before demanding cash to make the problem “go away”.
However, after some characteristically strong words from the chief executive, the scam came to an end early in the Duterte presidency.
In a statement today (Wednesday, October 18), Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade welcomed the airport’s upgrade, but said it was “just the beginning”.
“Work, work, work lang,” he said. “While it is good that we are not listed among the worst, let us work even harder to be included amongst the best.
“We should be careful that we do not backslide. The show must go on — and better!”
His optimism was echoed by Manila International Airports Authority (MIAA) General Manager Ed Monreal.
He said: “The bigger challenge is to maintain or even surpass our achievement.”
NAIA steadily improving
The improvement in the airport’s reputation has been slow, but steady. From 2011 to 2013, it was names as the world’s worst. Then, in 2014, it crept up to 4th place.
But 2015, it did not feature in the world’s 10 worst airports but was named as the 8th worst in Asia.
There was more good news for the Philippines in this year’s survey, with four airports in the list of Asia’s top 25. These are Iloilo, Mactan-Cebu, Clark and Davao.
The DOTr has pointed to a range of improvements at the NAIA, including the provision of cleaner toilets, extra seating, free Wi-Fi and a ‘Well-Wishers’ Area’.
“Further, since the new administration took over, there has been no single incidence of a passenger missing a flight for possessing a bullet,” the DOTr said.
“Passengers no longer feel the need to wrap bags and luggages in plastic or masking tape.”