Monday, 2 March 2009

Meeting the challenges at NAIA

The Manila Bulletin

I was at the NAIA 3 recently to see my son AJ off . He was flying to Singapore for training , and I was pleasantly surprised at the people-friendly terminal since those seeing off friends or relations were allowed inside the terminal building without fuss. Bulong Pulungan sa Sofitel last week) will be a pleasant place for "good-byes" and "hellos."balikbayans" and businessmen to ride in. [sic] Only bonafide employees of registered hotels are allowed to meet the arrivals after clearing customs at the NAIA 1.

Now I can see why the management team of General Manager Alfonso Cusi re-branded NAIA 1, 2, and 3 with the slogan: "We go the extra smile!"

Indeed, from the lady guard who graciously informed us that the Cebu Pacific counters for Singapore were not yet open (we were too early, it seemed) to the overall atmosphere of the airy, spacious, and spotlessly clean terminal building with its soaring steel gilders and high ceilings, the traveler cannot help but smile. We waited half an hour for the counters to open but we did so on the comfortable benches.

The restrooms were dry, clean, with ample water to flush the toilets automatically, and so were the faucets! Like other airport terminals abroad, the NAIA 3, when fully operational with the transfer of other airlines there (hopefully by June, two international airlines will be relocating there, Cusi told [sic]

The way it has been designed, NAIA 3 will have food and gift item concessionaires and will allow our families to send us off or welcome us back inside the air-conditioned comfort of the terminal.

And at the NAIA 1, the air-conditioned lobby has been expanded onto the driveway for seeing off and welcoming people, so no more huddling in the parking lot or craning your neck outside of the terminal building for a glimpse of your passenger.

There are also no more hucksters who harass arrivals with offers of taxi service or hotel accommodations. The yellow taxis parked outside the terminal are all accredited by the airport authorities and are "safe" for tourists and "[sic]

Highly motivated to serve, the staff of Cusi, led by TG Serrano, have been trying to "go the extra smile" in giving clients world-class service. They give assistance to those who need it, always, Cusi says, with a smile. True, true, a change from a culture of "gimme, gimme."

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While others predict gloomy economic scenarios, Cusi and his team see the glass half full for the country in terms of arrivals.

Even with the global recession, he foresees people using the NAIA this year to increase by some 3 percent because the people who have lost their jobs abroad are being balanced with those who leave for greener pastures. There is no let-up in the departures of OFWs, Cusi noted, and tourists and investors continue to come to the country through the NAIA portals.

In charge of the premiere gateway to the country, Cusi continues to upgrade the facilities of terminal 1, the "old" NAIA. As it is still fully operational, the renovations and improvements have been done in stages and he takes pride in cleaner and drier restrooms too!

GM Cusi struck the Bulong members as very down-to-earth and, as someone remarked, he is one of the President’s men who seems to be untainted by any charges of corruption or show of arrogance of power. Having been plucked from the private sector before his first appointment as Marina head, Al runs the MIAA, which is the "mother company" that oversees the three NAIA terminals and the Domestic airport with excellent management sense.

He would like to see the ownership of Terminal 3 finally settled and for PAL to move there so that Terminal 2 can be the domestic airport, for he is calm and cool and simply works on the immediate "doables."

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As it was pre-Valentine when he guested in our forum, he gave each of the ladies present a long-stemmed rose and a packet of chocolates. There was also a simple souvenir cloth bag with coffee mugs and notepads. Very low-key and simple, very Cusi!

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