The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) is preparing for an influx of passengers this coming Holy Week with “OPLAN Biyaheng Ayos: Semana Santa 2024,” expecting over 1 million passengers across Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s (NAIA) four terminals from March 24 to March 31.

MIAA General Manager Eric Ines anticipates a 15% increase in passenger volume during this year’s Semana Santa compared to the 926,755 passengers that passed through NAIA from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday last year.

In the first 14 days of March 2024 alone, passenger numbers have reached 1,853,132, ranging from 128,000 to 138,000, with a daily average of 132,367. For this year’s Holy Week, passenger traffic could reach 140,000 on a single day, or close to the pre-pandemic Lenten season, which recorded 1,126,501 passengers over eight days, averaging 140,81 daily.

“Our domestic operations, in particular, have been consistently surpassing pre-pandemic flight movement and passenger volume. We anticipate travelers taking advantage of exploring local destinations, the ease and convenience of air travel, summer airline promotions, or simply vacationing and being with family during this time,” Ines said.

“We are prepared for this influx at our terminals, especially as Holy Week coincides with summer, historically a peak season for air travel,” he added.

The airport chief ensures adequate manpower, equipment, and optimal working conditions for amenities and key facilities, including critical airport utilities and backup systems.

Standby generator sets supplying electrical power to MIAA’s vital facilities in cases of Meralco power failure, including the MIAA Admin Building, all complexes of the four passenger terminals, and the International Cargo Terminal, have been undergoing monthly scheduled test runs since January 16, 2024, to determine the operational performance and ensure the reliability of these gensets. In December 2023, MIAA also completed a series of planned electrical maintenance activities at NAIA Terminal 3, aimed at enhancing the overall reliability of the largest terminal’s electrical systems.

To address El Niño’s impact and rising temperatures, MIAA is replacing fan coils in terminal air conditioning units and conducting routine inspections and maintenance of air handling units, while the Authority has been coordinating with Maynilad for uninterrupted water service.

Additionally, provisions such as “malasakit kits” will be available for passengers in case of flight disruptions, along with assistance desks in all four terminals to address the public’s concerns. MIAA also assigned key officials to oversee these help desks within all terminals, while the management group will observe a “no leave policy” during these days.

To accommodate the anticipated increase in flights during the Lenten season, MIAA has also adjusted the scheduled closure of Runway 06/24 for two consecutive Mondays and Wednesdays, specifically March 25 and 27, and April 1 and 3. MIAA has reduced the closure period from five hours, originally set from 12:30 am to 5:30 am, to three hours, now from 1:30 am to 4:30 am on these specified dates.

Ines also emphasized MIAA’s continuous collaboration with government agencies within NAIA, such as the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and the Office for Transportation Security (OTS), to manage critical choke points or queues and ensure fully staffed immigration counters and final security points, respectively.

Airlines were reminded to plan for contingencies, including allocating standby or spare aircraft for unforeseen problems; adhere to the Air Passenger Bill of Rights in taking care of their passengers; deploy enough sweepers to locate passengers requiring prioritization in immigration queues; open check-in counters earlier, if possible, close them on time, and ensure full staffing of these counters at all times.

Moreover, MIAA advised airlines, particularly local carriers, to establish help desks within their respective areas. The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) and other pertinent government agencies will also be ready to provide passenger assistance at their respective help desks in the terminals.

MIAA continues coordination with the PNP Aviation Security Group, local government units of Pasay and Parañaque, and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to ensure smooth traffic flow in thoroughfares leading to and from the terminals.

Meanwhile, to prevent missing their flights, passengers are urged to be in NAIA at least 3 hours before international departure and 2 hours before domestic departure. Some airlines may suggest an earlier check-in time to prevent long lines at the counters. Travelers with only hand-carry luggage are encouraged to check-in online or use the check-in kiosks.

To expedite processing at Bureau of Quarantine (BoQ) and BI counters, international inbound travelers to the Philippines are reminded to complete eTravel registration online before arrival, with Philippine passport holders encouraged to use immigration e-gates upon arrival.

Passengers may avail of public modes of transportation to and from NAIA. Information regarding these transportation options, including their respective pick-up and drop-off points, can be found at https://www.miaa.gov.ph and MIAA’s social media accounts (@miaagovph).

MIAA also reminds passengers using airport accredited transport as well as regular taxis to keep their copy of the dispatch slip. This slip contains critical information about the taxi they are boarding, as well as important agency hotlines to contact in the event of any issues during the journey.

Ariel Fernandez

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