MANILA, Philippines – The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) may no longer be the world's worst airport, but passengers arriving at the Philippines' premier gateway are often greeted with an unwelcome sight outside the terminal's gates.
Frequent NAIA travelers know this: as soon as you step outside, you're greeted by car rental operators and coupon taxi dispatchers asking if you need a ride. Answer yes, and they'll quote an exorbitant rate for your destination. You either haggle, or reject the offer and wait for your turn at the long lines for the much cheaper metered taxis.
But the metered cabs come few and far in between, leaving tired, frustrated travelers with no choice but to agree to a higher fare for a ride home.
Tens of thousands of passengers arrive at NAIA's 4 terminals every day, but there are only less than 2,000 rental cars and taxis available.
Even considering that there's no need for a 1:1 ratio – as most cabs carry 2 to 4 passengers at a time – airport authorities admit that the number is not enough to meet the transportation demands at NAIA.
The problem is more acute in Terminal 3, which is not accessible to other modes of public transportation such as jeepneys.
In a Senate hearing, the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) explained that while the number of arriving passengers in NAIA has increased, there has been no similar increase in the number of transportation units.
The MIAA said that while it has granted notices of conditional award to concessionaires for an additional 296 yellow taxi units, only 76 units have been deployed as of May 2015.
Of the remaining 220 units, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said 135 have not filed their applications.
To provide more transport options, the MIAA earlier allowed unaccredited white metered taxis to pick up passengers at the arrival areas of NAIA Terminals 2 and 3 during peak hours.
The MIAA is also mulling allowing app-based transport network companies Uber and Grab to pick up passengers at the airport.
Even while it acknowledged the need to add more transport units, the MIAA also blamed traffic exacerbated by ongoing infrastructure projects for the late turnaround time of deployed taxi units.
Lawmakers earlier said the lack of available transport services at the airport may affect tourism in the country.