Prospects dim for Sangley Point airport project

June 5, 2015 at 15:34

By: Miguel R. Camus

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:06 PM June 1st, 2015

HOPES for the timely construction of a new gateway to replace the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila dimmed, after Transportation secretary Joseph Abaya said it was unlikely a proposed project in Sangley Point, Cavite would be bid out within President Aquino’s term.

Abaya told reporters that the feasibility study for the P435.9-billion Sangley International Airport project being conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency had yet to be finished.

A completed study, furthermore, would require the approval of the National Economic and Development Authority.

“Bidding might be difficult,” Abaya said, in response to a query on whether the DOTC can auction and award the Sangley project under a Public Private Partnership scheme before President Aquino steps down in mid-2016.

“At least what we could do for whoever will replace us is to get Neda board approval and clear the direction of the government,” Abaya said, “This will allow businesses and other stakeholders to also align their plans on that.”

Jica chief representative Noriaki Niwa confirmed last week that the Sangley feasibility study would still be completed in 2016. He added that the DOTC had requested an “interim report” to be submitted next month.

Naia, which is comprised of four passenger terminals, handles over 32 million passengers annually, making it the busiest airport in the country.

The DOTC’s original plan was to start construction at Sangley and possibly complete it by 2025, although that target is no longer attainable given Abaya’s recent statements.

The Sangley International Airport would be able to handle about 55 million passengers per year when it opens in 2025, which together with the existing Naia in Manila would be enough to meet the area’s estimated demand of 59.1 million passengers, Jica had said.

The Sangley facility can eventually be expanded to handle 130 million passengers annually by 2050, it added.

Delays in the construction of a new international gateway will likely bolster Naia, whose operations and maintenance contract the DOTC is seeking to bid out, as well as Clark International Airport, which has struggled to lure traffic due to its distance from Metro Manila.

There have been previous proposals for alternative air gateways to serve Metro Manila. San Miguel Corp. last year suggested the reclamation of land in Manila Bay for a $10-billion international airport. It stopped short of making a formal proposal given the Aquino administration’s bias against unsolicited offers in favor of “open” bidding procedures.

The DOTC is currently bidding out O&M contracts for the New Bohol, Bacolod-Silay, Iloilo, Davao Laguindingan gateways, as it hopes to lure operators seeking to capitalize on tourism and business prospects in provincial locations. Only one airport PPP, the Mactan Cebu International Airport, has been successfully bid out. That deal was won by Filipino company Megawide Construction Corp. and India’s GMR Infrastructure.


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