DOTr defends NAIA amid ‘worst business class airport’ tag

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 29) — The Department of Transportation has disputed a recent study that tagged the Ninoy Aquino International Airport as the “worst business class airport in the world,” saying its claims are “unsubstantiated.”

According to luggage storage app Bounce’s Business Class Index, NAIA was rated 0.88/10 and got the “worst scoring for three different categories: its number of destinations, on-time performance, and rating from Skytrax.”

But the DOTr said NAIA had improvements throughout the administration of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte. It noted that extortion schemes such as "laglag-bala" and baggage pilferage reports were resolved in recent years.

“While the 'study' shows unfavorable rating and unsubstantiated claims about NAIA, it cannot be denied that significant improvements have been carried out in the country's main gateway in the past six years under the Duterte administration,” the department said in a statement released on Saturday.

The DOTr also said that Bounce is a luggage storage business which only operates in the United States and Asia, but has no operations in the Philippines.

The department also pointed out that NAIA is a destination airport and not a hub airport, which explains why there are not many business class lounges and onward destinations.

“Passengers using business class lounges are those passing thru for brief business trips or for stop over to take their onward/connecting flight to their final destinations. Airlines primarily determine their need to put up business class lounges for their customers,” the agency explained.

The DOTr added that it is “highly implausible” that NAIA’s on-time performance contributed to the airport’s supposedly worst rating. It noted that the Air Carriers Association of the Philippines reported that the airlines’ running on-time performance averaged at 83% in the last quarter of 2019, which is higher than the 40% recorded in 2016.

The department also said that Skytrax, an airline and airport review website, rated NAIA with three stars, which is applied “where staff service standards or the production facilities are fair or average.”