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Swiss challenge for Bulacan airport to start this month

The Duterte administration is set to launch the bidding process for San Miguel Corp.’s massive airport proposal in northern Manila Bay.

Reuben Reinoso, undersecretary for planning at the Department of Transportation, told the Inquirer they plan to publish the Swiss Challenge documents for the P736-billion project dubbed the New Manila International Airport in Bulacan province before the end of April this year.

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“There are no more issues with Bulacan,” Reinoso said, referring to the unsolicited offer of SMC, a food and drinks conglomerate that is continuing its more than decade-long push to diversify into infrastructure.

The Bulacan Airport, in the coastal municipality of Bulakan located about 50 kilometers northwest of Manila, is being considered as an eventual replacement to Manila’s congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).

SMC president Ramon S. Ang said they were in ongoing talks with possible partners, including Incheon International Airport Corp., which operates South Korea’s main air gateway.

A Swiss challenge will allow rival companies to challenge SMC’s proposal. The bidding rules give SMC a distinct advantage since it will be given the right to match a better offer and win the project.

Reinoso said the Swiss challenge would be concluded 60 days after the last date of publication.

SMC’s Bulacan Airport will rise on a 2,500-hectare property in Bulakan and will be built in phases.

The first phase will consist of two parallel runways and a capacity of 35 million passengers a year. This could be built within three to four years, SMC had said. Eventually, it is expected to have multiple parallel runways and a capacity of more than 100 million passengers annually.

The Bulacan Airport offer is among a string of private sector-led initiatives to provide a solution to worsening air traffic around Metro Manila and nearby provinces given constraints in Naia.

The government already awarded the 25-year concession to operate and maintain the Clark International Airport, about 100 kilometers north of Manila, to a venture that includes Singapore’s Changi Group and local conglomerates JG Summit Holdings and Filinvest Development Corp.

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In February 2018, a group of seven conglomerates known as Naia Consortium proposed to upgrade and operate Naia for a period of 15 years. That offer remains under review by the Manila International Airport Authority.

The provincial government of Cavite has also proposed a new international air gateway in Sangley Point, near the southern portion of Manila Bay.

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TAGS: ‘swiss challenge’, Airport, Manila Bay, Reuben Reinoso, San Miguel Corp.
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