The Philippines would benefit immensely from having more than one airport to serve as the country’s international gateway, the same way large metropolitan areas overseas operate, according to the chief of San Miguel Corp.
In an e-mail to the Inquirer, SMC president Ramon Ang said that having more than one international airport would also treble the positive effects of the government’s infrastructure plan as well as its thrust to boost tourist arrivals in the country.
“Notwithstanding the existing plan to develop Clark as a major international airport, we believe that our proposal to build a world-class international airport closer to the National Capital Region complements the government’s infrastructure master plan,” Ang said, after the transportation department said it would be up to President Aquino to decide on the future plans for the country’s major airports.
San Miguel has proposed to build a privately funded four-runway international airport that would be located only “15 minutes” away from Makati City, although Ang has so far declined to disclose its exact location.
The project, he said, would bring in investments of as much as $10 billion and would require at least 2,000 hectares of land.
The San Miguel chief parried the criticism leveled by business groups at the government for its supposed lack of focus on developing the Clark International Airport as an alternative to the antiquated Ninoy Aquino International Airpot, citing the example of major cities overseas being served by multiple airports.
“Many cities are known to have more than one or several international airports,” he said. “Paris has five: Charles de Gaulle, Orly Airport, Beauvais-Tille, Paris Le-Bourget and Chalons Vatry; London also has five: London Heathrow, London Stansted, London Gatwick, London Luton and the London City airport.”
Ang added that San Francisco has three international gateways: San Francisco International, Oakland International and the San Jose International Airport, and Washington D.C. has two.
“Closer to the Philippines, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok have two international airports each,” he said. “Given the government’s thrust to push tourism and the record arrivals to the Philippines, we see the need for more than one major airport in the near term.”
The San Miguel chief earlier expressed skepticism that Clark could completely replace Naia—or another location on the periphery of Metro Manila—saying the former US air base in Angeles City, Pampanga, was too far from the metropolis.
For Clark to be a viable alternative international airport, Ang said that a high-speed rail line would have to be built between Angeles and Manila. He estimated that this rail network would cost as much as $10 billion—roughly the same amount needed to build a new international airport from the ground up.