I’ve been reading some posts on social media complaining about the increase in the overnight parking rates at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). This seems to be a recent development considering the last time we used any of the parking facilities of NAIA was last November 23 when the wife parked to wait for my arrival at Terminal 2. It wasn’t overnight parking but then she said she doesn’t recall seeing any signs announcing changes in the parking rates. The posts I saw through Facebook are for overnight parking at Terminal 3 where the old charges were 50 PHP (about 1.14 USD) per day. This is actually very cheap even considering that parking is on an open lot with marginal security. Even parking lots in Makati, Taguig and Ortigas charge more for overnight parking on open lots.
The new rate is basically 300 PHP per day including taxes, which apparently surprised a lot of people after everybody got used to the 50 PHP/day rate of old. That meant that for a 3 night trip to Bangkok or Singapore, for example, where people left their cars at the airport, they had to fork over 900 PHP instead of the 150 PHP they used to pay for parking. Indeed, that’s a big jump in parking fees!
NAIA’s parking rates can be compared to the parking rates at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is provided in their website. 30 USD (about 1,315 PHP) is charged for 24 hours for use of the multi-level/covered parking structures at the airport. Meanwhile, open lot parking charges 12 USD (about 526 PHP) per day. Suddenly, NAIA’s parking charges don’t seem to be expensive beside the 526 PHP/day charge at LAX. However, these rates are arguably in a country where there are higher wages and standards of living and so perhaps a fairer comparison would be for parking in a major airport in ASEAN. Doing a bit of research online, I found that Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport charges the equivalent of about 341 PHP per day for parking. Singapore’s Changi charges the equivalent of around 701 PHP per day. And Kuala Lumpur International charges the equivalent of about 575 PHP per day for parking. [Note: Rates from the link may not be updated.] These are generally for multi-level parking buildings where vehicles are practically protected against the environment (e.g., rain, sun, etc.).
A comparison is also made for the nearby Park n’ Fly facility, which also publishes their parking rates in their website. The site of the private parking provider states a rate of 340 PHP + EVAT (taxes) per day. And this is for a multi-level, covered parking structure near NAIA Terminals 1 and 2. An argument can be made here for the location and proximity of NAIA parking spaces compared to Park n’ Fly but note that the fee for the private entity includes airport transfers with their own vehicle. Compared to this, the NAIA rates are quite expensive considering that it is for open lot parking and for what is perceived as marginal security. In fairness to airport parking security, I have not heard or read about incidents of burglary or stolen vehicles in relation to NAIA parking areas.
And so there are many questions that need to be answered in as far as the sudden and steep increase in parking rates at NAIA. The most important question here is what is the basis for the parking rate increase? It is assumed that the additional monies generated will cover certain expenses like security and maintenance. So there needs to be transparency in where the additional funds will go or how it will be allocated (e.g., repair works towards ultimately opening the multi level facility at T3). Also, perhaps the information dissemination for this rate increase was lacking and therefore ineffective in advising the public about the change. But then there was generally no major uproar over the increase so perhaps those complaining weren’t paying attention or were caught in the transition to the new parking rates. One can even say that certain posts in social media can be qualified as rants rather than objective takes on parking rates.
I would like to think that parking as an amenity should not generally be a revenue generating scheme for the airport. Collected fees should cover operating expenses and excesses can be used to build a trust fund, for example, for future expansion of the facility, but the latter should be clearly spelled out in a plan for the airport. After all, it is in the best interest of the public, the users of the airport, if improvements can justify what they are paying for and how much they are paying.