As borders reopen and more people travel around and out of the country, issues regarding our transport system continue to draw attention. The Philippines’ main airport Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) has recently been the subject of a number of viral issues, including the latest one involving journalist Atom Araullo.
Frustration over lack of airport transport options
Last Friday, journalist Atom Araullo took to Twitter to air out his frustration about his experience. After just arriving from an overseas trip, the journalist had a difficult time finding a ride home.
Update: was able to book Grab after a little less than 2 hrs. Setting the pick up location to the departures area (T2) worked. Traffic nalang problema, hehe. Wawa yung mga nakapila pa sa taxi though, madalang talaga dating ng mga sasakyan. Salamat sa thoughts and prayers! 🥲 pic.twitter.com/0QNktBp51P
— Atom Araullo (@atomaraullo) December 9, 2022
“No coupon taxis, no metered taxis, no Grab. Wala rin tayong mga bus at tren dito. Basically kung wala kang sundo, you’re dead. It’s been an hour and counting. This is what a broken transpo [transportation] system looks like,” he wrote. Araullo was only able to secure a ride “after a little less than 2 hrs.”
The airport’s response
The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), which operates NAIA, replied to the journalist half an hour after his tweet was posted. MIAA pointed to “the high demand due to rush hour” and “heavy traffic around the metro” as reasons for the difficulty in finding transportation.
Hi Mr. @atomaraullo, we are saddened to hear about your experience as the high demand due to rush hour combined with heavy traffic around the metro makes it difficult for any mode of public transport to get to and from the airport terminals.
— Ninoy Aquino International Airport (@MIAAGovPH) December 9, 2022
Airport-goers echo his sentiments
After Araullo’s tweet went viral, other airport-goers shared their similar experiences.
“Arrived the other day at Terminal 3, same experience and found the luck to book a 6 seater Grab car… driver said that traffic was bad at NAIAX with speed limit of 60km/hr, only to see wang-wang escorted private vehicles speeding like ambulances, making all other cars pull over,” one Twitter user said. Meanwhile, another claimed that they tried to hail taxis, but couldn’t ride because the fares were “freaking insane.”
Had the same observation upon arriving tonight, quite an unpleasant welcome. In NAIA 2, white taxis, even those which are booked via Grab, are not allowed to enter the arrival area. You have to go all the way up the departure area and have yourself picked up from there.
— Reginald James (@rjlorico) December 9, 2022
One acknowledged the apology, but asked for action from the MIAA. “Di ba tayo naiinggit sa mga airport ng ibang bansa? Kelan tayo pwede magmayabang na maganda airport natin?” the user asked. Another, however, said they felt that MIAA was “passing the blame to rush hour and heavy traffic”.
According to MIAA, the monthly passenger volume at NAIA reached 3.1 million in November, which is a 229% increase in the same period last year.
The people’s suggestions
Airport-goers called for action from MIAA and the government authorities to implement changes that can address the ongoing issue of transportation.
Hello NAIA, bakit kay Atom tumutugon kayo pero sa reklamo ng ordinaryong mamamayan or even the balik bayan eh ndi nyo man lang po magawa?!? Sana po gawan natin ng paraan na magkaroon ng mas epektibong pampublikonh transportasyon kahit man lang bus na umiikot every 30mins sana?!?
— YHEL -BahagHari- (@Running4PLHIV) December 9, 2022
“Adjustments and alternative options should be laid out for passengers, busy period eh. All other countries do it,” one said.
“Sana po magkaron ng masakyan from airport to any point in Manila. Kahit bus lang po sana,” another requested.
The current available transport services
In response to the suggestions, MIAA shared that there are shuttle buses operating in NAIA: the Genesis Transport and the UBE Express. MIAA also has a list of NAIA-accredited transport services, the rates of which are also regulated.
Here are the shuttle buses that are currently operating at NAIA:
We highly advise you to coordinate with them for schedules, routes and for further assistance. Thank you!
— Ninoy Aquino International Airport (@MIAAGovPH) December 10, 2022
Beware of FAKE transport rates!
The MIAA encourages passengers to immediately report to our hotline and social media accounts when presented with a bogus rate card.
MIAA Hotline 8877-1111
TEXNAIA (SMS) 0917-839-6242
LTFRB (02) 8459-2129
LTO (02) 8928-9440#DisipliNAIA #MIAAGovPH pic.twitter.com/RnDV4fjAvF
— Ninoy Aquino International Airport (@MIAAGovPH) December 13, 2022
A new solution
A week later, MIAA also announced a new partnership with Grab called Airport to Anywhere (ATA). Through this new program, an initial 200 Grab-accredited vehicles will be deployed exclusively to NAIA to meet the increased demand for transport vehicles in the airport. A passenger can book an ATA transport service through the Grab app. The price is fixed based on drop off location and no surge charges will be added.
Other viral issues
Earlier this year, NAIA also went viral for the lack of cashless payment options in the airport. Two foreigners — a Dutch content creator and K-Pop idol Joshua Hong of Seventeen — reported different instances where they had difficulties in transacting in the airport because establishments only accepted cash.
joshua hong of seventeen making he’s appearance on national tv again. cash only😭 pic.twitter.com/TtqldeZW8s
— yanaa» ⑰ (@elyaners) October 11, 2022
One of the most stressful airports
In November, a travel blog named the Hawaiian Islands ranked NAIA as the third “most stressful airport in Asia and Oceania.” Based on data they collected from 1,500 Google reviews for 500 airports worldwide, 58% of passengers saying they experienced stress in the Philippines’ main airport.
NAIA IS THE 3RD ‘MOST STRESSFUL AIRPORT’
The Ninoy Aquino International Airport was listed as among the most stressful airports in Asia and Oceania, according to data collected by travel blog Hawaiian Islands.
Do you agree with their rankings?
— Philstar.com (@PhilstarNews) November 26, 2022
What are your thoughts on the airport’s transport issue? Share them with us below!