WHAT WENT BEFORE: Finding alternatives to Naia
MANILA, Philippines — Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia), the country’s main international gateway, has been beset with congestion and inefficiency in recent years.
Decongesting Naia and shifting some domestic and international airlines to Clark Airport was one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s promises in his first State of the Nation Address in 2016.
Since the start of the Duterte administration, several proposals have been made for Naia’s rehabilitation and for a new main gateway outside Metro Manila to alleviate the congestion in Naia, which currently serves more than 40 million passengers per year. The proposals include:
- Transformation of Sangley Point, the American naval base in Cavite province, into a new international air hub
- San Miguel Corp.’s (SMC) “aerotropolis” in Bulacan, called the New Manila International Airport
- Expansion of Clark International Airport in Pampanga province
- Upgrade and operation of Naia by a private sector consortium
Last month, the President ordered the immediate transfer of domestic flight operations to Sangley Point in Cavite. The directive followed his surprise visit to Naia hours after a lightning storm delayed and diverted dozens of domestic and international flights on June 9, affecting thousands of incoming and outbound passengers.
The plan to transfer Naia’s general aviation flights to Sangley was set into motion during the term of President Benigno Aquino III, but it was never fully implemented. Construction of additional facilities, which would enable Sangley to handle commercial turboprop flights, started late last year.
Apart from the government’s activities in Sangley airport, the Cavite provincial government also submitted a multibillion proposal to build an airport complex on a reclaimed land in Sangley Point.
In February 2018, the Naia consortium, whose members are among the country’s largest conglomerates, proposed to upgrade Manila’s main gateway. Its initial offer to operate Naia through a 35-year concession was rejected by the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
The consortium adjusted its offer earlier this year to meet the DOTr’s requirements. Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade had said the revised proposal was acceptable but the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) returned the P102-billion offer of the Naia Consortium and required another round of revisions.
The members of the consortium include Ayala Corp., Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Alliance Global Group Inc., Asia Emerging Dragon, Filinvest Development, JG Summit and Metro Pacific Investments Corp. Its technical partner is Singapore’s Changi Airports International.
In April 2018, Neda green-lighted the Swiss challenge for SMC’s unsolicited proposal to build a P735.6-billion aerotropolis in Bulacan, which SMC calls the New Manila International Airport.
The proposed new international aerotropolis, or a metropolis revolving around an airport, will involve a massive complex to be built on a 2,500-hectare location along Manila Bay in Bulakan town.
The airport project will have an initial capacity of 100 million passengers or more than three times that of Naia. The airport itself would have at least four runways.
SMC is on track to win the project by early August if rivals fail to show up and challenge by the deadline on July 31 this year.
In December 2018, the long-term operations and maintenance of Clark International Airport was bagged by the consortium of Singapore’s Changi Airport and local conglomerates JG Summit Holdings Inc. and Filinvest Development Corp.
The ongoing expansion of Clark Airport is being implemented by Megawide Construction Corp. and GMR Infrastructure consortium which is building a new passenger terminal that will increase the current capacity of four million passengers yearly to 12 million passengers by 2020.
Sources: Inquirer Archives and crk.clarkairport.com
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