SMC to present USD10-B airport plan to PNoy

Posted at 04/25/14 10:07 AM

MANILA - Diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) is likely to forward to Malacañang next week a proposal to build a $10-billion airport that would replace the congested and more than three decades old Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang confirmed in a text message that the conglomerate is looking at presenting to President Aquino the proposed international gateway to be situated in an 800-hectare property in Manila on April 29.

“Yes, April 29,” Ang replied in a text message when asked when the plan would be presented to President Aquino.

Japanese news agency Nikkei reported last month that SMC plans to build the $10-billion international gateway that would have four runways and higher passenger capacity as against the single-runway of NAIA that is situated in a 400-hectare property in Pasay City.

Nikkei also reported that the airport project would be offered to the government under a build-operate-transfer scheme wherein ownership would be turned over to the state after 25 years.

SMC has a 49 percent stake in national flag carrier Philippine Airlines Inc. (PAL) together with taipan Lucio Tan who owns the other 51 percent.

The diversified conglomerate announced plans to put up an international airport early last year and was supposed to present the plan to President Aquino in February last year.

However, Ang announced in March last year that it was postponing indefinitely the presentation of the proposed international gateway due to the unclear policy from the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

The government has allocated P1.3 billion for the rehabilitation of the NAIA Terminal 1 being undertaken by DM Consunji Inc. and another P1.9 billion for the retrofitting of NAIA Terminal 3 being conducted by Takenaka Corp. of Japan to be completed in time for the country’s hosting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit scheduled in 2015.

The NAIA Terminal 1 is congested for operating beyond its design capacity of 4.5 million as it is now handling over eight million passengers. The retrofitting of NAIA3 would help accommodate the excess passengers from NAIA1 as it is only operating at about half of its total capacity of 13 million passengers a year.

Data from the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) showed the number of domestic and international passengers served by NAIA climbed over three percent to 32.865 million last year from 31.877 million in 2012.

For his part, Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya earlier said the government is veering away from unsolicited proposals and pursuing competitive biddings for major infrastructure projects as part of the Aquino administration’s “Daang Matuwid” principle.

The DOTC is looking at Sangley Point in Cavite and Laguna de Bay as proposed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) as the possible site of a new international gateway.

“But JICA has now firmed up its position on Sangley. That was the report, they are firming that up,” he said.

The DOTC wants to put into operation a new international airport by 2027 with the joint development of the congested NAIA in Manila and the Clark International Airport in Pampanga.

A JICA study showed that the number of passengers in Greater Capital Region would hit 106.7 million by 2040 from 31.88 million in 2012. It expects passengers from the National Capital Region as well as Central Luzon and Calabarzon would rise steadily to 49.8 million in 2020, 75 million in 2030, and 106.7 million in 2040.