Aggressive JG Summit-FDC Clark Airport offer provokes rivals
Rival bidders eyeing the Clark International Airport in Pampanga province were caught off guard when the consortium of Filinvest Development Corp. and JG Summit Holdings submitted a new offer to develop and operate the gateway to the tune of P839 billion.
Entertaining the fresh proposal was seen contrary to the direction recently set by the Duterte administration—a hybrid public-private partnership (PPP) project where government would finance the construction of a new passenger terminal and private parties would later be invited for the operations and maintenance (O&M) component.
The lack of clarity is raising the specter of potential conflict with private groups that have previously made offers to develop and operate Clark Airport.
The Pampanga airport is a heavily underused gateway being positioned as an alternative to congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. Clark Airport has lured support because it is an existing facility, however, critics said its location at 100 kilometers away from the capital affected its viability.
An official from Metro Pacific Investments Corp., which submitted on April 26 a P337- billion Clark Airport joint venture proposal with BCDA, said the government needed to weigh its decision carefully.
“If the government awards OPS [ original proponent status] on Clark now, it will lose all credibility on infrastructure build policy and direction,” the official, who requested anonymity, said.
An original proponent status gives its holder a big advantage during the mandated competitive challenge— should it be approved by the Duterte administration.
“The government can no longer entertain unsolicited proposals for Clark, joint venture or otherwise, since they have officially slated Clark for government-funded EPC (engineering procurement and construction) and then a bid for its O&M,” the same company executive added.
Manuel Antonio Tamayo, Department of Transportation (DOTr) undersecretary for aviation, said on Wednesday that the Filinvest-JG Summit offer would still need to be evaluated.
The DOTr in May announced it would reject private sector offers for Clark as it pursues the hybrid PPP approach.
One of the main reasons stated was the government’s fear that disagreements among private players would delay the project.
“If there is a bidding, and several companies would participate, what do you think will happen when someone loses?” Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said at the time.
The consortium of Megawide Construction Corp. and India’s GMR Infrastructure, which submitted last year a P250-billion offer to develop and operate Clark Airport, is also expected to seek clarification from the BCDA and DOTr.
The BCDA is already underway in the procurement process for a new passenger terminal at Clark Airport.
The deadline for the submission of bids for the P12.55 billion project, which aims to double Clark’s capacity to eight million passengers yearly, was set for Dec. 5 this year.
This is the second offer of the Filinvest-JG Summit consortium, which submitted last year a P187-billion unsolicited proposal to the DOTr.
It said the second offer, a joint venture, was different because it did not include the second passenger terminal now being bid out.
Instead, it was a broader “long-term development of the airport into the country’s second international gateway and also includes the operation and maintenance of the existing and new terminals.”
Filinvest-JG Summit added that it had tapped as technical partner Singapore’s Changi Airports International, part of the group that operates some of the best global air gateways in the world.—MIGUEL R. CAMUS