The Manila International Airport Authority is now gearing up to accommodate thousands of people going to and from Manila in time for the traditional observance of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.
The Authority has ordered the entire airport facility to be placed under alert before, during and after the holiday break to ensure the safety of passengers and stakeholders at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
The move came after the Department of Transportation directed to intensify operation of Malasakit Help Desks at all transport hubs in the country.
The directive is in line with the conduct of "Oplan Biyaheng Ayos: Undas 2019," which will be ready to provide the public with assistance on their annual travel to the provinces from Oct. 25 to Nov. 4, 2019.
MIAA general manager Eddie Monreal tapped all department heads to ensure the deployment of enough personnel to assist travelers, especially the elderly passengers, persons with disability and those in need during emergency situation.
He said help desk, doctors and nurses, and staff from different units will also help organize things and assist passengers regarding their flight schedules and information especially domestic flights.
All terminal managers and assistant managers will perform their regular functions even during the days declared as holidays, aside from MIAA officials and employees who have been authorized to support the management and operations.
MHDs shall serve as a one-stop shop for passenger assistance in airports, seaports, train stations, and land terminals.
Assistance ranges from handling transport-related inquiries, complaints, and requests for assistance such as Transport Network Vehicle Service/ taxi booking; facilitating refund of terminal fees; providing attestation of cause of trip cancellation or delays; delivering emergency medical assistance; to accepting reports of possible security threats, among others.
MHDs will also be distributing Help Kits especially to pregnant women, women with children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities (PWDs). These kits contain drinks and light snacks, battery-operated fans, face towels, foldable fans, wet wipes, hand sanitizer of permitted volume, and ballpens, among others, that are meant to make travel more comfortable.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade stressed the importance of heightened activation of MHDs throughout the country.
“It is imperative that all our MHDs are properly manned and equipped to address the varied concerns and requests for assistance by the public,” he said.
Meanwhile, the department reminded that students from elementary until college levels, including those enrolled in technical and vocational schools, are exempt from paying terminal fees in airports operated by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, as well as seaports managed by the Philippine Ports Authority.
PPA also exempts senior citizens, PWDs, and active uniformed personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, and Philippine Coast Guard from paying terminal fees at seaports under its purview. Medal of Valor awardees and their dependents will also have their terminal fees waived at all PPA-operated seaports and at all four terminals of NAIA.
In a recent meeting with the airline operators, it was agreed upon that passengers should be at the NAIA at least 3 hours before departure if travelling international and 2 hours if travelling domestic.
Airlines were, however, not discouraged to impose longer lead time for departure especially for those taking direct flights to America and Australia due to the added security measures now being implemented during check-in.
“When you only have 3-5 passengers who have not checked-in, close your other counters so the next user can opt to use it," said Monreal.
The airport chief encouraged airline companies to make use of available counters earlier than the standard occupancy schedule of three hours before departure time.
“As compared to processing your passengers altogether when you open at the appointed time, we can somehow ease the queuing situation at the immigration if you are able to process passengers who are already there waiting ahead of 3 hours,” he added.
The airport chief also suggested to the airlines to process passengers with bags at the check-in counters. “They should be discouraged from using the kiosks because they still have to appear at the counter anyway. That is one process less for them,” he added.
Monreal reminded domestic carriers using Terminal 3, to monitor closely the availability of the bus gates so they can direct passengers where to go. Use of bus gates is a method of boarding and disembarking where passengers are transported through a bus to and from an aircraft.
The GM further reminded them to tell their handling agents to limit paging announcements to three per flight and to use the PA system in the prescribed manner. “Let us be considerate of passengers. Too many announcements and announcing with a loud and garbled voice are both irritating,” he said.
As to flight operations, the airport chief strongly urged the airlines to make sure that their spare aircraft is healthy for an easeful aircraft rotation. He further mentioned to make sure that problems relating to crew flying hours are attended to ahead of time.
Monreal again reminded the airlines to strictly adhere to the five-minute rule. “If not ready in five minutes, do not ask for start-up clearance.” He served this reminder to all airlines and strongly warned them that non-adherence and constant disregard for this policy will be a major consideration in slot deliberations for the next season.
The airlines, on the other hand, bared their respective plans to improve their operations this Undas and the coming Christmas season. Cebu Pacific was quick to inform that they will make available to security personnel manning the entrances at immigration, passenger identification devices that will be connected to their system owing to the fact that they have the most number of passengers using Terminal 3.
This would hasten the passenger identification process as the device will just need to capture the bar code in the passenger’s boarding pass.
The airlines were one in assuring the airport chief that they are doing all they can to improve total passenger experience in cooperation with the MIAA. They agreed to give the MIAA a directory of persons to call during this peak season so that passenger concerns that are highly airline related can be immediately attended to.
Monreal assured the airlines that he stays committed to fostering MIAA’s partnership with them.
He encouraged them to report to him any MIAA employee who will seek for favors or will deliberately delay the delivery of service to them. “That is certainly not acceptable. I will not condone that,” the airport chief emphasized.
Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority has earned the cooperation of Department of Public Works and Highways, shopping mall operators, water utility and telecommunication companies in carrying out contingency measures in a bid to ease the anticipated traffic during the holiday season.
MMDA General Manager Jose Arturo Garcia Jr. and concerned representatives have agreed to implement from Nov. 11 to Jan. 10 next year, the following action plans:
1. All shopping malls located in Metro Manila will begin their operations by 11 am, an hour later from the usual 10 am opening time, during weekdays; (2) shopping mall operators to deploy additional security personnel to facilitate long lines of vehicles going inside mall parking areas which cause traffic gridlock; (3) Removal of obstructions on loading and unloading bays in the vicinity of shopping malls; (4) limiting deliveries of non-perishable goods only at night-time or from 11 pm to 5 am; (5) no weekday sale policy; and 6. Temporary suspension of road reblockings along Efipanio de los Santos Avenue and C5 Road except government flagship projects and/or during emergency cases.
Garcia said these measures have been laid down to somehow reduce anticipated traffic congestion, particularly along EDSA, during the holidays.
“Traffic is already bad and we expect it to get worse as the number of vehicles increases daily,” said Garcia.
Garcia said shopping malls are considered traffic generators during the holidays and delaying their operating hours by an hour could help ease traffic situation in Metro Manila.
There are at least 100 shopping malls in Metro Manila.
Among those who attended the meeting with MMDA officials are representatives from SM Supermalls, Ayala malls, Robinsons, Trinoma, Fishermall, Greenhills Shopping Center, Globe, Smart, PLDT, Manila Water, etc.