SMC gains edge in Clark airport project

October 30, 2017 at 15:30

SMC gains edge in Clark airport project

Visiting IATA CEO pushing for construction of new, bigger air gateway

By:  |  / 05:26 AM October 28, 2017

Conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) obtained the coveted original proponent status for its proposal to build a P700-billion “aerotropolis” in Bulacan province, giving it a big advantage ahead of a bidding process yet to be set by the government.

This was confirmed yesterday by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, who spoke to reporters at the sidelines of the Philippine Aviation Day business forum in Makati.

Tugade said a final decision would be made by the board of the National Economic and Development Authority, chaired by President Duterte.

An original proponent status gives a firm an advantage should the project be auctioned off under a Swiss challenge, a bidding process that allows other interested parties to submit competing offers. However, the original proponent holds the right to match the best offer that will come out of the exercise and win the project.

“A formal proposal (for Bulacan) was submitted to us, and we have gone over it, the completeness of the proposal. We have forwarded it to the Neda for final approval,” Tugade said.

On another private sector offer to build an international airport in Sangley Point, Cavite, Tugade said they were waiting for the formal submission of the proposal.He said all unsolicited offers should adhere to the government’s requirements, that is they should not require state subsidies and guarantees.

SMC hopes to eventually replace Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport with its offer to build an air gateway in Bulacan.

It is consistent with the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) support for a new air gateway serving Manila.

“When you consider the size of Manila, it’s a 25 million [population] city… it’s clear the size of the airport you should have is for 100 million passengers,” said IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac.

In a rare visit to the Philippines, De Juniac outlined his views on the country’s airport situation during a business forum in Manila on Friday.

In the same forum, De Juniac appealed to the Philippine government to support a new air gateway close to Metro Manila with a capacity of at least 100 million passengers per year.

He said this capacity was the target size of new air gateways serving cities of comparable size to Manila.

“It’s not a figure that we take from nowhere. If we add that the Philippines is very attractive for tourism, it’s a floor (target),” he added.

“You have a gold mine in the Philippines,” he said, adding the Philippines had the tremendous possibility to expand.”

“You need to have the right infrastructure to cope with that growth,” he added.

This comes as Naia, the country’s busiest airport, struggles with worsening congestion. Expansion options are limited since it is located in Metro Manila.

SMC’s Bulacan proposal, which will rise on a 2,500-hectare land, would have four parallel runways (pairs of 3.5 kilometers and 2.6 km) with a provision for two more if required, based on briefing materials earlier showed to the DOTr.

It is designed to have a capacity of 100 million passengers per year, with provisions to double it to 200 million passengers yearly.

Naia handles more than 40 million passengers a year against its design capacity of 30 million passengers. It has two runways that intersect.

According to SMC, air transport delays in Naia already cost airlines about P1.1 billion yearly, and this would increase to P3.8 billion by 2020 if the situation would not improve. For passengers, productivity losses carry a hefty price tag: P2.8 billion today and P11 billion by 2020.

The first Philippine Aviation Day was organized by the Air Carriers Association of the Philippines and the IATA.


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