Uber comes to the Philippines’ premier airport

transport woes at naia (2)
Transport queue at NAIA

IN A bid to lessen the transportation woes of airline passengers, the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) allowed a new transport company to service the four terminals of the Philippines premier airport.

David de Castro, MIAA spokesman, said his office and GrabCar, a transportation network company (TNC) similar to Uber in the United States, signed the accreditation agreement Thursday. He said the company, which would be in competition with other accredited transport entities at the NAIA, will start operation on Monday.

“We are hopeful that the transportation concerns of passengers will be resolved with the entry of the TNC,” De Castro said.

Grab is the first TNC to be officially accredited by the MIAA. It would allow travelers to book in advance GrabCars to travel to and from the airport. The company will also have booths and travel agents in designated areas of the airport’s four terminals to assist passengers.

Grab, in a statement, explained that “anyone will be able to book a ride even if they may not have a smartphone or mobile data connectivity. Multiple bookings can be made at the Grab booths at any one time to cater to more travelers. Those who wish to book a ride with Grab may also do so using their smartphones.”

GrabCar operators will be allowed to enter the arrival areas once it receives a confirmed booking.

Meanwhile, the MIAA said it will not tolerate abusive drivers who would take advantage of their passengers. Grab will be liable for any passenger concern and it has its own policy regarding violations.

Likewise, the MIAA has a “memorandum circular 8” on transport management that will also apply to Grab and its drivers, De Castro added. He, however, clarified that the MIAA has no control over the rates that Grab would impose.

“Whatever discussion Grab had with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board regarding its rates will apply,” stressed De Castro.

On April last year, white painted taxis were permitted access to the NAIA terminals 2 and 3 after the volume of arriving passengers was found to be more than what the yellow taxi could handle. Also last year, bus services were given a trial period at the NAIA terminal 3 in a bid to address the long queues of passengers waiting for taxicabs especially during rush hours.

The MIAA has agreed to the new bus routes to provide more modes of transportation for airport passengers. On February 17 this year, MIAA has launched the Premium Airport Bus Service that will ferry passengers to and from the NAIA on a 24-hour basis.

The airport management said public transportation is very limited at terminal 3 given its distance from the main road, unlike the other terminals.

But the main reason for the shortages of public utility vehicles at Terminal 3, observers said, is the annoying heavy traffic in the area.

Benjie Vergara
A veteran reporter covering the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. He is currently writing for Manila Times, the Philippines' oldest newspaper.

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