A Wake-up Call-A A +A
Friday, October 4, 2013
ON A Cebu Pacific flight to Manila last week a client of mine related an incident which happened to his son-in-law from abroad who had just deplaned at the Bacolod-Silay Airport.
While the family was exchanging greetings before boarding the car someone surreptitiously stole the son-in-law’s bag. It apparently only took seconds for the theft to take place, but it ended with the disappearance of the luggage, to the red-faced embarrassment and consternation of my client.
The family immediately contacted the airport authorities and sought permission to review the recording presumably taken by the airport’s closed circuit television. To their dismay, they were told that the CCTV was not working! It also seemed that the airport personnel had no idea or were not trained to handle incidents like these. To make the story short, the bag was never recovered, no thief was caught and another blot to our tourism program in the Province was registered.
I chose to write about the incident because while our national and local officials are conscientiously requesting the Civil Aeronautics Administration and Malacanang to finally allow the Bacolod-Silay Airport to live up to its full potential as an “international airport”, and not merely as an airport of international standards, it seems we may be forgetting to prepare it and to train its personnel to operate under international standards.
Some months ago I wrote about the sorry state of the airport’s toilets. Other passengers have complained about the defective air-conditioning system. To the credit of its officers and personnel, these complaints have since been gradually addressed. Now, however, we’re finding out that something such as vital as airport security (which includes a working CCTV) may itself not also be world-class.
Converting the Bacolod-Silay Airport into an international landing zone does not only require extending the runway and putting in place an Immigration and Customs station. Passengers coming in from abroad are almost always exhausted from the long flight. They expect a warm welcome and a smooth check-out process so they can leave as quickly as possible.
Tourists arriving at the airport definitely expect that their persons and property are safely in the hands of smiling and efficient airport personnel, backed up by as friendly and as efficient security and safety equipment. They certainly do not expect to be harassed on the way out or, worse, their lives and property endangered by persons whom the airport cannot keep out.
That conked out CCTV should be taken as a wake-up call. As early as now, while the runway has not yet been extended and we do not yet have the personnel handling international flights -- now is the time to refit the building and to train the people that we have there to give the tourists what they need and expect, a warm welcome and a good first impression of Negros and Negrenses.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on October 04, 2013.