BILLION-PESO INCOME, TRAVEL TAX CAN FUND MAKEOVER OF ASIA’S WORST AIRPORT – ANGARA

The authority running what has been recently ranked by travelers as
the world’s worst airport grossed P7.5 billion in 2009 which if added
to the P1.4  billion income of the travel tax-collecting agency would
form a cash cache that could finance an “emergency makeover.”

“Lack of funds can never be an excuse on why the Ninoy Aquino
International Airport continues to be beset by poor facilities because
year in and year out it is turning in a tidy profit,” Rep. Juan
Edgardo Angara said.

Angara reiterated this comment after the website, “The Guide to
Sleeping in Airports,” ranked the NAIA Terminal 1, which it tagged
last year as the fifth worst airport in the world and the worst in
Asia, as this year’s ‘world’s worst airport.’

Angara said the Manila International Airport Authority, which operates
the three NAIA terminals and the old domestic terminal, posted a
before-tax net profit of Php1.17 billion out of a gross income Php 7.5
billion in 2009.

“Out of this amount, it remitted Php 838 million to the Treasury as
national government share in addition to paying Php 419 million in
income tax, bringing total government share to Php1.26 billion,” he
said.

“If this is what government earns, then I think it isn’t asking too
much if we request it to plow back some money for the repair of
toilets, upholster some lounging chairs, and install additional
air-conditioners,” Angara said.

“It is not the government who should receive dividends alone; the
traveling public must feel their taxes and fees working for them too,”
he said.

Angara said MIAA’s 2010 income should have massively increased on the
back of the surge in the number of passengers lured by cheap fares
offered by budget airlines, one of which, Cebu Pacific, saw its number
of passengers jump 19 percent to 10.5 million last year.

The MAIA collects an “airport user’s charge” of Php 200 and Php750
from each departing domestic and international passenger,
respectively. In 2010, it handled 27.1 million passengers, ranking it
48th in the world.

On top of the airport fee, Filipino citizens and permanent residents
in the country travelling abroad are required to pay a travel tax of
P1620, if flying economy or P2700, if holding a first class ticket.

Overseas Filipino Workers, government employees on official travel,
diplomats are however exempt from the levy while dependents of OFWS
can pay a discounted rate of Php400 and Php300 for first and second
class passage per passenger.

In 2009, the agency which collects the tax , the Tourism
Infrastructure and Enterprises Zone Authority (TIEZA), formerly the
Philippine Tourism  Authority, reported a gross income of P1.36
billion, and a  net income before tax of  P320 million.

Angara said the travel tax collections are also one source of funds
for the upkeep of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport as almost 95
percent of what is collected in a year is paid by passengers exiting
out of NAIA.

He urged the TIEZA to devote a larger chunk of its annual
infrastructure fund, which it spends on tourism sites, to the
country’s main gateway “because the tourism experience starts the
moment the visitor steps out of the plane.”

Angara said the MIAA’s income and travel tax collections can combine
to form a steady source of income to make the airport’s facilities
more comfortable. “We are not talking of a major makeover here.  Just
toilet that flush, clean restrooms, comfortable chairs, free Internet
are not big-ticket expenses,” he said.

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