MIAA unveils digital transformation plan for NAIA

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Manila International Airport Authority OIC general manager Bryan Andersen Co. Photo courtesy of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.
  • The Manila International Airport Authority is harnessing digital technologies to enhance services and operations at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport
  • MIAA officer-in-charge general manager Bryan Andersen Co said the digitalization of airport procedures and the optimization of operations are crucial steps to enhance passenger experience
  • These projects include the passenger reconciliation system to improve passenger flow at the security checkpoints, an automated passenger processing system, acquiring a collaborative decision-making tool, and an advanced visual docking guidance system

The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) is harnessing digital technologies to enhance services and operations at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

“The digitalization of airport procedures and the optimization of operations are crucial steps in our efforts to enhance passenger experience,” MIAA officer-in-charge general manager Bryan Andersen Co said in a presentation during the recent Philippine Aviation Summit hosted by the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.

Co pointed out that, due to NAIA’s limited physical space, it is crucial to maximize efficiency within the existing infrastructure. The adoption of digital technologies will play a pivotal role in enhancing NAIA’s services and processing.

MIAA aims to ramp up its security screening process by introducing the passenger reconciliation system, which will improve passenger flow at the security checkpoints and resolve crowding issues.

Under this system, passengers can pass through airport security by scanning their barcode or QR code, eliminating the need for physical travel documents. Last year, MIAA also removed initial security screening at NAIA terminal entrances to facilitate efficient passenger flows without compromising airport security.

As part of their goal, MIAA plans to implement an automated passenger processing system that offers self-service options for travelers. Co cited Cebu Pacific’s enhanced digital customer service at Terminal 3 as an example. Passengers who complete online check-in can access a dedicated gate and proceed directly to the boarding area if they don’t need to check bags.

Self-service options will enhance efficiency, customer satisfaction, demand generation, and cost reduction.

“We are confident that once all airlines embrace this system, we can effectively alleviate a major bottleneck that impedes our operations,” Co said.

To alleviate decongestion at NAIA, MIAA is acquiring a collaborative decision-making tool for the integrated command and control center to manage aircraft traffic.

With this, Co said they plan to create a digital apron to transform traditional airside operations and enable real-time data exchange between aircraft, ground handling operations, and the airport systems. The ACDM tool will also enhance turnaround times and provide solutions to current operational constraints. It will also allow stakeholders to track aircraft movement, allocate resources, and manage fuel consumption, ultimately improving operational performance at minimal cost.

In 2024, Co said MIAA will invest nearly P1 billion for the acquisition of an advanced visual docking guidance system (VDGS), which will enhance passenger experience as it will make aircraft turnarounds more efficient and improve the safety of flights.

The VDGS will cover approximately 70 parking bays at NAIA and is slated for implementation next year. The system’s acquisition cost is subject to reimbursement as part of the NAIA privatization concession.

READ: NAIA rehab contract award seen in Q1 2024

Co clarified the existing VDGS at NAIA is obsolete and needs replacement, with airlines already requesting this system, which is in use at other airports. The VDGS will assist aircraft parking, especially during adverse weather conditions and “red lightning alerts,” eliminating the need for manual ground personnel guidance and enhancing safety.

MIAA is also committed to improving mobile connectivity at all of NAIA’s terminals. Through a memorandum of agreement with Converge ICT Solutions, Terminal 4 is now powered with fast fiber connectivity, while other terminals will follow through before the end of the year.

As part of efforts to better engage and understand customers, MIAA has also tested a customer relationship management tool at Terminal 2. Real-time customer feedback analysis allowed immediate responses to customer needs and concerns, fostering collaboration and communication between different departments within MIAA, airlines, and government agencies.

In collaboration with ground handlers and airlines, another initiative MIAA is looking into to enhance operational efficiency is promoting off-site check-in. Co said this provides passengers with convenience as they can check-in for their flight at locations convenient to them, such as city centers, hotels, and transportation hubs. It eliminates the need for early arrivals at the airport, offers flexibility in travel plans, and reduces crowds and queues within terminal buildings.

Co emphasized MIAA is working to extend the airport’s reach due to limited the infrastructure space at NAIA.

READ: MIAA forecasts ₱15B revenues as pre-pandemic passengers return

MIAA is allocating 20-25% of its revenue as capital expenditure for various programs in 2023 and 2024 to address issues and improve the operational and passenger experiences at the country’s main gateway. – Roumina Pablo