DOTC: APEC summit won’t paralyze NAIA operations

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THE Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) is ready to accommodate the economic leaders flying into the country for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit this November but it would not paralyze the main gateway’s operations.

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“No it shouldn’t be . . .” DOTC Secretary Emilio Joseph Abaya told reporters during an inspection tour of the NAIA Terminal 1 Tuesday morning. “There might be some inconveniences because, of course, any economic leader deserves a different kind of treatment for security reasons.”

Abaya noted the APEC leaders have their own aircraft and NAIA, for security reasons, would have to adjust to the respective protocols. “But nothing that would be truly disruptive . . . “There would be some inconvenience, a few delays, but nothing irritatingly disruptive.”

The Philippines is 99.9 percent if not 100 percent ready, Abaya said. “Honestly, nothing major has been raised to me that would be a concern of a secretary . . . that a secretary has to step in . . . So I’m pretty sure preparations are flowing smoothly and as planned.”

In terms of transportation for the APEC leaders, the DOTC chief noted he hasn’t heard any major challenge or stumbling block.

“From our end . . . this is a project not just for APEC, this is a continuing enhancement of security for the airport. It doesn’t mean that the current system is lacking in hosting an APEC . . . There is just a continuing drive to further improve security all the time.”

As far as the DOTC is concerned, representatives of the 21 APEC members are flocking to the Philippines by the middle of November.

To avoid any confusion, certain bays in NAIA Terminals 1, 2 and 3 have been reserved for APEC delegates.

Undertake immediate construction

In July 2013, the DOTC noted the need to address structural issues at NAIA Terminal 1 and that the rehabilitation works should be done by February 2015 in time for hosting the 2015 APEC summit and a P1.3-billion budget was released to reinforce the facility’s structural integrity, the first in 30 years.

NAIA 1 has been rated as one of the world’s worst airports in past years.

The rehabilitation project was expected to be 95 percent complete by the end of February 2015, with some finishing touches beyond the passenger areas to be completed by May.

With the renovation and retrofitting of Terminal 3 recently completed, passenger congestion at Terminal 1 is expected to decline by 50 percent. Five foreign airlines are moving their operations from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3.

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