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JG Summit ready to join SMC for airport project

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JG Summit ready to join SMC for airport project

Cebu Pacific chief laments congestion at Naia

MANILA, Philippines—Gokongwei-led JG Summit Holdings, owner of dominant budget airline Cebu Pacific, is open to partnering with San Miguel Corp. should the government approve the latter’s proposed $10-billion international airport in Manila Bay, company president Lance Gokongwei said. The planned airport, which was recently presented to President Aquino but still requires various approvals from several departments, was aimed at decongesting Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Gokongwei also welcomed San Miguel’s airport suggestion, citing Naia’s single runway as a factor behind congestion at the aging Naia complex, which handled about 32 million passengers last year.

“We will certainly consider [San Miguel’s airport] if we were approached,” Gokongwei said.

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“Clearly, the limiting factor is now capacity. Any plan to increase access to a capital city like Manila should be thoroughly considered,” he added.

Airlines like Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines, partly owned by San Miguel, would benefit from a new airport. PAL, for example, claimed that it loses about $2 million per month due to delays related to airport congestion.

Ang’s proposal calls for a four-runway international gateway, which would occupy half of the 1,600 hectares San Miguel would need to reclaim in Manila Bay. Gokongwei was among three groups that Ang said San Miguel could partner with. He also cited Henry Sy’s SM Group and Ayala Corp., led by the Zobels.

Each of these companies also made unsuccessful bids for the P17.5-billion Mactan-Cebu International Airport public private partnership deal, which was bagged by Megawide Construction Corp. and India’s GMR Infrastructure last month.

SM confirmed in a stock exchange filing Tuesday that it would consider participating in San Miguel’s airport proposal. Ayala Corp. managing director Eric Francia said in an e-mail to the Inquirer there have been no discussions at this time.

The proposal was still in the early stage and the Department of Transportation and Communications said it would invite San Miguel to provide more details.

The proposal would be under a build-transfer-operate scheme and will have transport links including a proposed 15-kilometer Airport Expressway linking to Fort Bonifacio, Ortigas and Eastwood, with alternative routes to Makati City.

It also includes plans for an “airport express rail service” that would bring the total travel time between the airport and the Makati City financial district to 11 minutes. Ang said San Miguel would welcome an open bidding process should his proposal be accepted by the government.

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“Everybody will have an equal chance to build this airport using the same location, same idea and same study, which I have provided the government,” Ang said in an interview last week.

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TAGS: airports, JG Summit, Manila Bay, San Miguel Corp.
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