Sale of ‘world’s worst airport’ eyed
The government is considering the sale of the old Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1, which was voted the world’s worst airport in a recent online poll, to raise as much as $2.5 billion for future aviation-related infrastructure projects.
In a fresh move that veers further away from the administration’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) agenda, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) said the money to be raised would be used to develop the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in Clark Freeport, Pampanga.
The DMIA is being groomed as the country’s next premier international gateway to replace NAIA, voted the world’s worst airport in the online survey of Guide to Sleeping in Airports.
It remains unclear, however, whether the NAIA Terminal 1 would generate sufficient interest from would-be buyers given the government’s plans to shift commercial aviation traffic to Terminal 3, and eventually DMIA.
“The NAIA facility is more than 30 years old and the last rehabilitation was done years ago,” Transportation Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II said.
He said DoTC estimates showed that NAIA has reached its saturation point and there was not much room for expansion.
The rated capacity of all four NAIA terminals stands at about 32 million passengers a year. It is not only reaching the limit runway-wise, but terminal capacity-wise as well, Roxas pointed out.
“There are already plans and ongoing actions but clearly this is not enough so we will expand our efforts,” Roxas said. He described the aging facility as benefiting from “Botox,” or makeshift renovations that keep the facility running, without necessarily improving it.
“That’s why we are advocating Clark as the airport of the future,” Roxas said. The former US military base has more space around it that can be used for the airport’s expansion. In comparison, any possible expansion at NAIA is constrained by nearby residential and commercial areas.
The $2.5 billion to be raised from the privatization of NAIA will be able to fund the construction of the new international gateway in Clark.
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