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DOTr denounces 'unfavorable,' 'unsubstantiated' rating on NAIA as world's worst business class airport

By NICK GARCIA Published May 29, 2022 3:43 pm

After California-based luggage storage app Bounce rated Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) as the worst business class airport worldwide, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) took offense at it, saying the "unfavorable rating" was "unsubstantiated."

Based on Bounce's 2022 report, NAIA got a score of 0.88 out of 10, citing its 14 lounges, 101 destinations served, 59.6% of on-time flights annually, and a three-star rating out of a possible five stars from Skytrax, a United Kingdom-based authority on airline and airport review.

In its methodology in reviewing the best and worst airports, Bounce said it consulted with the following:

  • LoungeBuddy, a website detailing airport lounges worldwide;
  • Wikipedia, for the number of destinations the airport serves. It noted that the listed information is "correct" as of March 21, 2022. The same information can be found on the NAIA website;
  • The Official Airline Guide (OAG), for the percentage of on-time flights between June 2018 and May 2019. Bounce said “on-time” refers to flights departing no more than 15 minutes after the scheduled flight time; and
  • Skytrax.

In a statement on May 28, the DOTr together with the Manila International Airport Authority noted that Bounce "has no operation whatsoever" in the country. It then falsely claimed that NAIA's rating as worst business class airport was based on reviews aggregated via the blog businessclass(dot)com.

Bounce used businessclass(dot)com to review airlines, not airports. No Philippine airline made it to Bounce's best and worst airline list as it has no entry in the website.

The DOTr tried to refute Bounce's report on best and worst airports based on the number of destinations, percentage of on-time flights annually, and Skytrax rating.

For the number of destinations, the agency argued that it's "dictated by and determined through bilateral and air services negotiations." It also noted that NAIA is a destination airport and not a hub airport, hence the lack of business class lounges and onward destinations.

As for on-time performance, the DOTr cited the report of the Air Carriers Association of the Philippines stating that Cebu Pacific, CebGo, Philippine Airlines, PAL Express, and Air Asia's average on-time performance reached 83% in September 2019, when member carriers also mounted 8,685 flights by that time. The OAG's 59.6% rate covered 271,804 flights in 11 months.

Noting that Skytrax's three-star rating is "fair or average," the DOTr also mentioned that NAIA was ranked 10th of 10th in Skytrax's "World's Most Improved Airports" during its World Airport Awards in 2018.

"Since then, we have already undertaken more improvements in our facilities all geared to improve the entire passenger experience of a traveler," it said, adding that the "significant improvements" in the country's main gateway "cannot be denied" under the Duterte administration.

The DOTr cited how the "laglag-bala" and "bukas-bagahe" schemes have been addressed, as well as the rehabilitation and upgrade of NAIA's facilities. It also vowed to continue to improve the airport facilities and its services.

"Rest assured that the review shall serve as an inspiration for us to do more and better," it said.

"Despite challenges, setbacks, and criticisms, it is undeniable that (NAIA) has come a long way from where it was before," it concluded.