The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has recorded about 10-percent increase in arriving and departing passengers following changes in airline assignments at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
This as the BI assured passengers going abroad via the NAIA Terminal 3 of fast processing amid overcrowding in the airport’s immigration departure area.
BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco said the NAIA Terminal 3 operations recorded a daily departure of almost 17,000 passengers and daily arrival of some 16,000 passengers.
Their morning operations saw the greatest increase with more than 1,100 departures and 1,500 arrivals.
“I have instructed the BI T3 terminal head to ensure that all counters are fully manned to service travelers. But evidently, more space is needed for us to be able to install new counters and add more people,” Tansingco said.
The BI chief reported earlier that almost 150 new immigration officers were deployed to different international airports in the country.
The BI was also looking at the transfer of additional 59 officers from their operations in terminal 2.
“We have requested airport authorities to construct additional counters, and we are thankful for their commitment that this will be completed by the last quarter of the year,” Tansingco said.
Currently, BI T3 operations have 26 counters and five e-gates at its arrival area and 30 counters at the departure area.
Tansingco disclosed that airport management have shared plans to open a separate departure area for overseas Filipino workers, diplomats, and passenger needing special assistance.
“This is a welcome development for us, to make things easier and more convenient for the traveling public,” he said.
Tansingco also said the Immigration booths in NAIA 3 were always fully manned as the bureau has already beefed up the number of BI officers deployed at the premiere port.
“But although our manpower at the airport is more than enough, these long queues of passengers could not be avoided due to many factors, foremost of which is the recent transfer of several airlines from NAIA 1 to NAIA 3 that resulted from the impending shutdown of international flight operations at NAIA 2,” Tansingco said.
He said the recent transfer to NAIA 3 of China Southern Airlines, Gulf Air, Jeju Air, Thai Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Jetstar, Starlux, and Scoot, has caused a 10-percent increase in the average number of passengers who depart from NAIA 3 daily.
Tansingco also attributed the congestion problem at NAIA 3 to other factors, such as limited space, flight delays and diversions caused by bad weather and frequent declaration of lighting alerts that result in simultaneous disembarkation of passengers from affected flights.
“We are constantly coordinating our efforts with the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) in seeking the best solution to address this perennial problem of overcrowding in our immigration areas at the NAIA,” the BI chief added.
“Among these are the installation of additional BI counters and expanding the space of our departure area,” he added.
He reiterated that the BI has already addressed its previous problem of manpower lack in light of the continuous hiring by the bureau of new immigration inspectors.
“In fact, due to the augmentation of our manpower, we have granted the request of our airport terminal heads outside Metro Manila, such as those in Clark, Mactan and Davao, by reassigning immigration officers to their turfs, Tansingco said.
He said 99 Immigration officers will be reassigned to NAIA terminals 1 and 3 on June 16 when NAIA 2 is scheduled to stop servicing international flights.