P102-B revised NAIA rehab plan submitted; Sangley Airport starts operating in October

Published July 20, 2019, 12:00 AM

by Martin Sadongdong & Antonio Colina

By Chino Leyco and Emmie Abadilla 

The consortium of seven conglomerates has submitted its revised proposal for the Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s (NAIA) rehabilitation project that now uses the model for the Clark International Airport operations and maintenance (O&M) contract.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade gestures during the Senate inquiry on the August 16 Xiamen Air accident at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at Senate Building in Pasay city, August 29,2018. (Czar Dancel / MANILA BULLETIN)
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade (CZAR DANCEL / FILE PHOTO /  MANILA BULLETIN)

Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade said the P102-billion unsolicited proposal seeking to operate and upgrade Metro Manila’s main gateway was resubmitted last Thursday and agreed “more or less” to pattern the draft concession agreements after the O&M deal for Clark airport.

“We communicated to the consortium of seven [companies] and we communicated to them this position,” Tugade said in a roundtable discussion with Manila Bulletin on Friday. “As of yesterday [Thursday], I was told that they have already revised the concession agreement and they followed more or less the platform of Clark.”

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) had earlier returned to the consortium – Ayala Corp., Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Alliance Global Group Inc., Asia Emerging Dragon, Filinvest Development, JG Summit and Metro Pacific Investments Corp. – its unsolicited offer for NAIA rehabilitation as it did not comply with the government’s requirement that the draft concession deal should be patterned after the Clark airport contract, Tugade said.

After the submission Thursday, Tugade said the DOTr will review the draft concession deal and have a decision before the end of this month.

“If that [revised proposal] is okay, that will be elevated to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). The details of it, including the return on investment and material adverse government action (MAGA), were already discussed,” the Cabinet official said.

One of the main issues that caused delays for the approval of the project was the condition that may trigger compensation for the private concessionaire, otherwise known as MAGA.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, the Duterte administration’s chief economic manager, had said they will not give out unwarranted government guarantees for any unsolicited project being undertaken by private companies.

Tugade, meanwhile, said the government may entertain other groups that have also expressed interest in the rehabilitation of the aging NAIA.

As early as now, the DOTr chief disclosed that there are about two companies planning to make counter offers against the consortium of seven conglomerates.

The unsolicited proposal, which was submitted to the DOTr in February last year, aims to transform NAIA into a regional airport hub and expand its capacity to meet the anticipated growth in passenger traffic.

The P102-billion proposal involves expanding and interconnecting the existing terminals of NAIA, upgrading airside facilities, developing commercial facilities to increase airline and airport efficiencies, enhancing passenger comfort and experience, and elevating the status of NAIA as the country’s premier international gateway.

The project aims to increase capacity up to 100 million passengers per year from about 40 million passengers last year.

Sangley Airport 55% complete

As this developed, Tugade also announced that the Sangley Airport in Cavite is now 55 percent complete and will start its operations by October this year, although it will be limited to turbo prop planes.

The DOTr has ordered 24/7 construction works on the airport so that it will become an additional gateway that will help decongest the NAIA as the latter undergoes rehabilitation.

The government is spending P480 million to make the airport operational and fit out its terminal building. At present, the hangar is being constructed.

“The airport tends to flood, so drainage is important,” he acknowledged.

It has been suggested before that the 2.4-kilometer runway should be elevated by three to five meters to keep the water off, especially during high tide. Now, the DOTr installed a drainage system and a pumping station to prevent flooding. They likewise installed culverts in the building areas and passenger terminal.

The transport agency also plans to put up a wharf for a ferry service. The airport should be accessed by ferries servicing the routes from the Mall of Asia, Pasay to Sangley. Secretary Tugade already initiated the testing of ferries that can operate from Mall of Asia to Sangley within 18-24 minutes,

Last month, President Duterte ordered the DOTr to implement its plan to transfer some NAIA flights and operations to Sangley Airport in order to decongest NAIA.

The DOTr welcomed the proposal of the provincial government of Cavite to develop the Sangley Airport to accommodate 70 million passengers per year. But the approval process will be defined after the Cavite LGU has determined the legal framework for its implementation.