Airports NewsBusiness Cost NewsGovernance NewsInfrastructure NewsLocal Government NewsPart 3 News: Seven Winning SectorsPart 4 News: General Business Environment

2 groups join fight over Naia deal

Megawide-GMR to appeal MIAA board decision

By:  – Reporter / @miguelrcamusINQ
 / 05:26 AM December 18, 2020

One of the country’s biggest conglomerates and an aviation support services group are potential contenders in the battle to win control of the crown jewel of Philippine gateways, Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).

During a Senate hearing on Thursday, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Eddie Monreal said the two other groups that submitted unsolicited proposals for Naia were food, drinks and infrastructure conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) and Philippine Airport Ground Support Solutions Inc. (PAGSS).

This came to light even as Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said during the hearing he was not shutting the door to the consortium of Megawide Construction Corp. and partner GMR Infrastructure.

Just days before, the Filipino-Indian venture that redeveloped Mactan Cebu International Airport and Clark International Airport was stripped off its original proponent status to rehabilitate Naia to the tune of P109 billion at no cost to the government.

No reason was cited by the influential board of implementing agency MIAA, raising questions over the lack of transparency in the process.

SMC president Ramon S. Ang confirmed on Thursday they were proposing an operations and maintenance contract for Naia, meaning there would be no significant investments on the airport versus other proposals on the table.

Ang told the Inquirer that SMC, which is building an even larger P735-billion “airport city” northwest of Manila in Bulacan province, wanted a 10-year concession to operate Naia.

He added it would be best to wind down operations of Naia after the 10-year period.

Asked what will happen to Naia, Ang suggested the government should just redevelop or sell the property, which was roughly 2.5 times the size of Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.

“Sell the land, 646 hectares, for P2 trillion and pay government debts,” Ang said in a text message.

PAGSS is an aviation ground services firm that caters to the country’s major airlines.

In 2018, the company joined the consortium of JG Summit Holdings, Filinvest Development Corp. and a unit of Changi Airport to win the 25-year contract to operate and maintain the Clark International Airport in Pampanga province.

PAGSS is led by businessman Jeffrey Cheng, who was also part of the Philippine International Airport Terminal Co. Inc. consortium that built the controversy-riddled Naia Terminal 3 project.

Meanwhile, eyes are on the next MIAA board meeting slated to be held probably before the end of 2020.

Tugade clarified on Thursday that the earlier board ­decision to revoke Megawide-GMR’s original proponent status would still need to be “confirmed.”

“The project hasn’t been terminated permanently,” Tugade said, adding that the government’s own programs to improve Naia would continue independently from privatization efforts.

A Public Private Partnership (PPP) expert earlier ­explained that unsolicited projects were discretionary and even political by nature.

The previous Aquino administration had shunned unsolicited proposals, preferring instead an open bidding process under its PPP Program.

Megawide chair and CEO Edgar Saavedra said they would pursue an appeal to the government. He said during the hearing that their proposal would double Naia’s design capacity to 65 million passengers a year and end congestion.

“This is a good time for us to fix Naia,” Saavedra said, citing the temporary downturn in aviation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have proven [ourselves] in Mactan Cebu International Airport and we can duplicate that in Naia,” he said.