Manila Standard Today, 18 December 2014
By Alena Mae S. Flores
The Transportation Department said 2014 was a banner year for the air transport sector.

Energy Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said “2014 has been decorated with noteworthy achievements in our aviation sector.”

“From getting the nods of the US FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] and the European Union, to the start of full operations at Naia [Ninoy Aquino International Airport] 3 and the notable improvements at Naia 1, we are proud to say that it has been a good year for air transportation,” Abaya said.

“We look forward to more airport accomplishments in 2015, but we will give special attention to much-needed upgrades for land transportation next year, especially for our rail lines,” he said.

The department started the Naia terminal 1 rehabilitation project at a cost of P1.3 billion to ensure the building’s structural integrity.

Terminal 1 was rated as one of the world’s worst airports in past years, but with 40 percent completion of its structural rehabilitation and its mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, and architectural works this month, passenger experience at the terminal has been noticeably increased, the agency said.

The Naia 1 rehabilitation project will be 95-percent complete by the end of February 2015, with some finishing works not affecting passenger areas to be completed by May.

FAA upgraded the country’s aviation rating from Category 2 to Category 1 while the European Union lifted the ban against Philippine aircrafts operating in their continent.

Abaya said the landmark achievements spearheaded by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines indicated the country’s aviation safety standards had met international criteria and paved the way for the mounting of more Philippine-US and Philippine-Europe flights.

The Transportation Department awarded its first airport public-private partnership project, the Mactan-Cebu International Airport, in April. The project entails the construction of a new world-class international terminal by 2018 and the refurbishment of the existing terminal building by 2019.

The 25-year concession was bagged by the GMR-Megawide consortium, which bid to undertake the project with a premium payment of P 14.4 billion in favor of the government.

The consortium formally took over operations at MCIA in November and promised to launch immediate service improvements within its first three months of management.

The transport agency also awarded the design-and-build contract for the Puerto Princesa International Airport, another major destination for foreign tourists.