Wednesday, September 19, 2018
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8 groups vie for Clark airport O&M contract

The bidding for the operation and maintenance of Clark International Airport in Pampanga province—seen as an alternative to Manila’s congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport—lured big names and one brewing issue, with an interested bidder seemingly disqualified at the onset.

The state-run Bases Conversion and Development Authority said eight groups acquired bid documents for the 25-year concession to operate Clark airport. The bid submission is targeted on July 20, 2018, with awarding seen by Aug. 24 this year.

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These groups were Megawide Construction Corp. together with India’s GMR Infrastructure, Metro Pacific Investment Corp., Filinvest Development Corp., San Miguel Holdings Corp., Manuel Villar Jr.’s Prime Asset Venture, and Central Luzon Infrastructure Consultancy Inc. consortium. Foreign groups included India’s GVK Airport Developers Ltd. and France’s Groupe ADP, previously known Aéroports de Paris, which helped design the long-term master plan for Clark airport.

Joshua Bingcang, BCDA senior vice president for business development and operations, told reporters on the sidelines of the prebid conference that they wanted to get the “best partner and we want competition as well.”

However, the initial qualification requirements appeared to rule out the Megawide-GMR consortium, which currently operates the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA).

In the information memorandum for the Clark airport O&M, the BCDA said a company could not qualify if it holds a “majority equity interest in a concession holder of an international airport in the Philippines.”

Megawide Construction owns 60 percent of GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corp., the concession holder in Cebu. A GMR-Megawide spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

Bingcang told reporters he was unaware if Megawide was qualified, adding “we don’t know yet their equity interest in their existing airport.” He added that these matters could be taken up during the one-on-one sessions between the BCDA and potential bidders.

“If there are proponents who can provide us their position on why the government should reconsider [certain items], then we are open to hearing it,” Bingcang said.

During the forum, some participants also questioned the technical qualifications of the airport partner, specifically, on the provision that it should be included in SkyTrax’s Top 20 Best Airports.

Clark airport is the only facility that has a clear place in the government’s so-called multiairport strategy, which partly involves building new capacity before Naia reaches its limit, stalling future growth.

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The government last December awarded a construction contract to Megawide-GMR to expand Clark airport’s current capacity of four million passengers annually to 12 million passengers by 2020.

BCDA is undertaking the Clark airport privatization four months after it awarded the engineering, procurement and construction contract for a P15-billion terminal building to a consortium of Megawide Construction Corp. and GMR Infrastructure in December last year.

The new terminal, designed to handle 12 million passengers in the first phase, is among the first “Build, Build, Build” projects of the Duterte administration. It will be completed in June 2020.

The new terminal project has inspired Air Asia’s Tony Fernandes to submit a proposal increasing the airline’s passengers a year out of Clark to eight million, Vivencio Dizon, BCDA president, said earlier.

“Air Asia alone can use up the new terminal,” he said.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade earlier advised airlines to slowly move some of their flights to Clark from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City. The two facilities are 90 kilometers apart. —WITH A REPORT FROM TONETTE OREJAS

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