A world-class airport at last—in Manila

Angel Thoughts

It is in rugged crisis, in unwearable endurance... that the angel is shown.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

The pending renovation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) is hot topic.  Yes, we all agree, it’s about time we saw a modern NAIA. We expect no less once this pandemic is all over. Thank you, Secretary Art Tugade, for pursuing this project! We are referring here to four terminals—the oldest, Terminal 1, PAL’s T-2, the newest, Terminal 3, and the local terminal 4.

TRULY WORLD-CLASS The Mactan Cebu Airport is the second busiest international airport in
the country

This has been a long time coming and it seemed all set to take off with a winning bidder, the Megawide Construction Corporation no less. It has a reputable reputation as my good friend Ed Monreal, former GM of Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), now GM at NAIA, confirmed to me recently.

But there has been attempts to derail this worthwhile and much needed renovation.

The biggest scare bomb that has been hurled at the project is that the proponent Megawide will terminate all employees at NAIA. Now that is a fearsome scenario. Imagine all the thousands of unemployed added to the ranks of the present jobless lot because of the economic meltdown in this pandemic? No way, Jose!

But this is fake news. According to Megawide, they will surely adhere to the proper government-mandated process for employees, as they did at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA).

No one raised a howl in Cebu when the corporation renovated the terminal, which is now ranked among the most beautiful airports in the world! The multi-awarded terminal is such a delight. Designed with great care and attention, it highlights the beauty of Cebu.

Megawide chairman and CEO Edgar Saavedra asserts that “as the only company that has delivered a first-world, multi-awarded Philippine airport, MCIA, we are committed to boosting economic activities in the country by supporting the infrastructure buildup of the Philippine government.” 

We have their promise, and DOTr’s confirmation, that Megawide will surely follow the proper process with the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) as they did with the MCIAA. In Cebu, they absorbed the employees into their organization and made an offer to 100 percent of the employees listed by the MCIAA. This was done not only to adhere to government regulations but because, as Saavedra said, they saw value in their talents and inherent knowledge of the airport.

“We enthusiastically support President Duterte’s desire to deliver better infrastructure and we know that, in these days of economic uncertainty, infrastructure development is key toward economic recovery and providing jobs for our fellow Filipinos. We look forward to the opportunity to bring this to all NAIA stakeholders,” added Saavedra.

Ed Manda remembers a proposal he made several years ago to build a runaway at the shores of Laguna Lake (all public land by the way), and then construct a railway to NAIA to transport passengers landing there. As LLDA GM, he knew the situation on the lakeshore and was able to evict the squatters there. Unfortunately, they are back and flourishing like the water lilies on the lake. Now LLDA has to grapple again with pollution from the domestic wastes of the squatters’ homes and industrial wastes from the few factories still there on the fringe.

To continue, Louie Ferrer, Megawide managing director for transport, clarified the process of turnover for organic employees of the MIAA upon the handover of operations.

UNDER RENOVATION The NAIA Terminal 3, the newest and largest terminal in the Manila airport

“We will be sending offers of employment to the organic employees of NAIA. Those who accept the offers will enjoy benefits equal or possibly more than the benefits they were receiving from MIAA. Employees who transfer to Megawide are also protected against redundancies, retrenchments, or any labor-saving devices within a certain period,” Ferrer explained.

At MCIA, Megawide GMR developed an Operational Readiness and Airport Transfer (ORAT) team during the handover of operations. At NAIA, Megawide will also invest in creating a state-of-the-art aviation and airport training facility for it, which will prioritize not just organic employees of MIAA, but also non-organic and contractual employees of the airport complex.  In the short term, their focus is to train the current employees in line with their goal to deliver first-world services and operations within the first phase of operations. In the medium term, they aim to put up the aviation and airport training facility, which will implement programs for professional development and institutionalize processes at MCIA, revealed Ferrer.

“Our long-term goal is to develop Filipino aviation experts not just for Manila or Cebu, but also for other Philippine airports and airports around the world. We want to make the Philippines a competitive airport authority globally and we encourage other stakeholders at NAIA to work closely with us in retraining and up-skilling their contractual and/or job order employees, to the level required to run a first-world airport,” Ferrer continued.

Since the handover of operations six years ago, MCIA has received 11 local and international awards, including the Airport of the Year 2018 from leading aviation think-tank CAPA (Center for Aviation and the Completed Buildings) Transport Category of the World Architectural Festival. The transformed MCIA is an example of innovative and distinctive Filipino design delivered by the MEGAWIDE GMR partnership with best-in-class processes, procedures and technologies, benefitting Cebu, Visayas, and the entire Philippines.