The United States has warned its citizens that security at the Philippines’s main airport does not meet international standards, urging travellers to exercise “increased caution”.
The US Department of Homeland Security issued a travel advisory on Wednesday saying security at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport was not “consistent” with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards.
“Exercise increased caution when traveling to or from Ninoy Aquino International Airport,” the US embassy in Manila said on its website citing the advisory.
The advisory was based on an assessment by security experts from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the US homeland security department said without specifying the findings.
Once derided as the world’s worst airport due to leaking toilets and creaking facilities, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport is the primary gateway to the Southeast Asian nation.
A statement on the US homeland security department website said that the agency had directed airlines issuing tickets for travel between the two nations to notify passengers of the assessment.
It added that TSA representatives have been working with the Philippine government “assist airport and transportation authorities in bringing (the Manila airport) up to international security standards”.
Manila International Airport general manager Ed Monreal said on Thursday the Philippines would adhere to international aviation security standards.
“All points raised by the transportation security administration TSA auditors have either been addressed or are in the process of being addressed,” Monreal told reporters, adding that Manila airport was “very, very safe”.
Monreal said TSA auditors were in the Philippines in September and had observed that the Manila airport had some gates with faulty locks while security checkpoints were inconsistent.
He added the Philippines had hired additional guards and would procure x-ray machines to comply with the TSA recommendations.
The Manila airport topped the list of worst airports on the travel website “The Guide to Sleeping in Airports” from 2011-2013, causing the government to make major renovations.
The airport is notorious for flight delays and its security personnel had faced allegations of extorting money from passengers.
In 2013, a gunman opened fire outside the airport, killing four people including a town mayor. Lawmakers then criticised the lack of functioning CCTV cameras in the area.