Seven of the country’s largest conglomerates want the government to expedite the approval of their P350-billion offer to expand Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
“The present approval process takes time, months to more than a year. The country would be well served if we can have a better Naia soonest,” said Jimbo Reverente, spokesperson of the so-called super consortium that submitted on Feb. 12 the first unsolicited proposal for Naia’s upgrade.
Once approved, actual work will take 24 more months under the first wave of expansion. Further expansions are planned to meet projected passenger demand.
“The government can expedite the approvals allowed under existing rules. That will be the best scenario. Once we complete our short-term expansion and upgrading plans, passenger convenience will be immediately felt. There will be more space for everybody and that is just the first step,” Reverente said.
More expansion will follow to meet the expected growth in tourism, business and the economy. The four Naia terminals, designed to handle only 31 million, accommodated 42 million passengers in 2017.
“By 2019, the projection is we will have 47 million passengers. And the Naia terminals will still have the same 31-million passenger capacity. So it is urgent for the country to get this project going because doing nothing as a result of a long approval process will set all of us back,” he said.
“But if we can have our first wave completed by, say, 2020, tourism can become so much stronger that it can be a third economic pillar after the BPO [business process outsourcing] and OFW [overseas Filipino workers] remittances,” he said.
Reverente said “there is so much riding on Naia’s upgrade and this is one reason the seven conglomerates came together for this.”
He said to make sure the consortium would deliver, it brought in Changi International Airport, reputedly the world’s best airport manager, as a technical partner.
The seven conglomerates that teamed up for the Naia proposal include Aboitiz InfraCapital Inc. of the Aboitiz Group, AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp. of the Ayala Group, Alliance Global Group Inc. of tycoon Andrew Tan, Asia’s Emerging Dragon Corp., Filinvest Development Corp. of the Gotianun family, JG Summit Holdings Inc. of the Gokongwei family and Metro Pacific Investments Corp. of the Salim group represented by PLDT Inc. chairman Manuel Pangilinan.
The super consortium will be initially called Naia Consortium.
The project is divided into two phases, with the first phase covering the improvements and expansion of terminals at the current Naia land area and the second phase involving the development of an additional runway, taxiways, passenger terminals and associated support infrastructure. The group proposed a 35-year concession period.
The group planned to spend P100 billion for phase 1 and P250 billion for phase 2.