Marcos: No plan to privatize NAIA; management contract an option

There is no plan to privatize the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. clarified.

President Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr. inspects the Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport five days after the air traffic system outage that affected 64,000 passengers on Jan. 1, 2023. (Ali Vicoy)

In an interview, Marcos stressed that the government cannot privatize an airport and a private company cannot own the airport, which is the country's main gateway.

"We have no plans of privatizing...There’s no plan to privatize anything. Rather, we do the opposite," Marcos said on Monday, Jan. 23.

"hen Secretary Jimmy Bautista was talking about that, I think he may have been – maybe he misspoke or he was misinterpreted. But you cannot privatize an airport to begin with. They cannot own the airport. A private firm cannot own the airport," he added.

The President, however, disclosed that the government has invited a company that runs several big airports to come to the Philippines and "help us so that we can increase the traffic through the Manila airport."

"And they said, they could. And so they are coming – they were here last week and to look at the operations of the airport and especially since we had that problem on New Year’s day and this recent outage with the UPS (uninterruptible power supply)," he said.

Marcos said at most, the Philippines would only have a "management contract" and he wants that from a "private sector group who have huge experience in running ports and running airports."

"Come in and manage the airport. And they say that they, without changing anything, without changing – without new equipment, without building a new runway that they can increase the traffic from what is presently, they refer to as 35 movements per hour to up to 45 movements per hour without changing anything," Marcos said.

In a Palace briefing on Tuesday, Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista also clarified that the country will neither privatize the airport, nor give up the assets of the airport to the private sector.

"Ang ibig sabihin ng Presidente ay hindi naman natin ibibigay sa private sector yung assets ng NAIA ang ibig niyang sabihin ay (What the President meant was we will not give NAIA's assets to the private sector, what he meant was) it's the private sector who will manage the operations through a concession agreement which we have been doing in two airports now in Cebu and Clark," Bautista said.