Cavite airport plan moves a step forward
The Duterte administration is moving forward with the review of the province of Cavite’s proposed $9.3-billion (P500 billion) airport project in Sangley Point—a potential alternative to Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) recently issued a letter to the project proponent stating it had “no objection” to the gateway, which will involve the reclamation of about 1,500 hectares of land around the Danilo Atienza Air Base, which was used by the US Navy during World War II.
“We transmitted that we do not object to their proposal provided there are no government guarantees. The next step is they will have to determine the legal framework,” said Ruben Reinoso, DOTr undersecretary for planning.
The project, located about 30 minutes south of Manila and known as the Sangley Point International Airport project, was proposed through a government-to-government approach.
While seldom used for projects of this scale, it is viewed as a strategic solution because of the support from LGUs, which can influence how fast such big-ticket infrastructure projects can get off the ground.
An adviser for the Cavite government said earlier that financing would come from local business groups and Chinese state-owned enterprises, including a unit of financial giant Citic Group.
Reinoso said that while the project was a “go,” it still required the approval of the Philippine Reclamation Authority as well as the board of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), which is chaired by President Duterte.
“They now have to comply with the requirements for [final] approval,” Reinoso said.
Airport proposals, such as the Sangley Point International Airport, come amid worsening congestion in Naia, the country’s most important air gateway.
Last April, the Neda Board gave conditional approval to San Miguel Corp.’s P700-billion proposal to build an international airport in Bulacan province, north of Metro Manila.
The Duterte administration is also expanding capacity at the Clark International Airport, about 50 kilometers north of the proposed Bulacan airport.
Moreover, the DOTr plans to soon endorse an unsolicited offer from a private sector consortium seeking to operate and upgrade Naia for a period of 15 years.
Reinoso said this was part of the DOTr’s multiairport strategy, which would leave the decision on where to fly to market forces.
“There is no commitment for us to close down Naia,” Reinoso said, adding that flyers will be given a choice should all the new airports be built.
Based on briefing materials, the Sangley Point International Airport project can have its first runway operational in about three years.
This will support capacity for 25 million passengers a year at an estimated investment of $3.8 billion. A second runway, which will cost another $5.5 billion, will help support capacity of about 75 million passengers yearly.
Provisions for two more runways will bring the airport’s total capacity to 130 million passengers yearly by 2035.
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