SMC keeps eye on the prize as it awaits government plans for new air gateway
Conglomerate San Miguel Corp.’s (SMC) options are open when it comes to investing in a new international airport for Metro Manila, according to its president Ramon S. Ang.
Ang told reporters last week that SMC, among the most active conglomerates in the public-private partnership (PPP) space during the Aquino administration, would still bid for a new air gateway even if its own proposed project is not selected.
“We are just waiting for what the government decides,” Ang said. “Wherever they choose to build, we will bid.”
The statement comes as the Duterte administration mulls over at least two proposed projects that would eventually replace Manila’s aging Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).
The main gateway is already operating above its design capacity. Expansion options are also severely limited due to its location at the heart of the capital district.
SMC last year made a proposal to the Department of Transportation to build an “aerotropolis” on roughly 2,000 hectares of land in Bulakan, Bulacan, about 5o kilometers north of Metro Manila. The airport would have at least four runways, and would be located about 40 minutes from the Makati City financial district.
Separately, All-Asia Resources and Reclamation Corp., backed by Henry Sy Sr.’s Belle Corp. and Wilson Tieng’s Solar Group, proposed to reclaim about 2,500 hectares of land in offshore Sangley Point, Cavite. That would then be redeveloped into a new airport, seaport and industrial estate.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade earlier confirmed they were aware of the two proposals.
“If Secretary Tugade says he wants the airport in Sangley, we will join,” Ang said. “All airport projects will need to undergo bidding.”
Ang was referring to the unsolicited mode of procurement, which would cover project proposals made by SMC and All-Asia Resources and Reclamation. Under this format, the government selects the project and bidders are invited to challenge the proponent.
In case a superior bid is made, the project proponent is allowed to match the rival offer and will then be declared the winner.
Transportation Undersecretary for aviation Roberto Lim earlier said the government would decide on plans for a new airport within 2017.
These events are unfolding as various industry groups are calling on the government to release an aviation master plan and clarify long-term policies for the development of airports, including detailing the role of Naia alternative Clark International Airport in Pampanga province.
President Duterte last year also approved a P75-billion PPP project to develop Naia, and turn over its operations to the private sector.
Jaime Bautista, president of flag carrier Philippine Airlines, said the expansion constraints at Naia were among the biggest factors limiting growth in the industry.
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