Lately there has been much talk about the Philippines becoming the next ‘Asian Tiger’. Its economy grew at a roaring rate of 6.9 percent in the last quarter of 2014, second only to China in the region. The major debt rating agencies continue to upgrade their outlook, having promoted the country to “BBB”, or investment-grade, last year. Filipinos are increasingly migrating from agricultural jobs into more lucrative business process outsourcing (BPO) or service-oriented careers.
But there is one area where the country still lags — its airports. Manila’s international airport is reviled by backpackers and tourists for poor service, perpetually broken air conditioning and long waiting times. It routinely scores the worst in global airport surveys. Now the Aquino government is taking steps to improve not just Manila, but other airports as well. In May a US$ 2 billion deal was sealed with a Japanese joint venture, led by Mitsubishi, to build a new airport on the popular tourist island of Bohol. Six more airport deals will come up for tender later this year under a public-private partnership scheme.