SMC bags Bulacan airport project
Clark, Pampanga—Conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) is set to build the country’s biggest air gateway after emerging as the winner in the P735-billion New Manila International Airport tender.
SMC, a food, drinks and infrastructure conglomerate that first proposed the project three years ago, saw no rivals by the Swiss challenge deadline on Wednesday.
Under the bidding rules, it will be awarded the project in the coming days, Giovanni Lopez, chair of the bids and awards committee of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), told reporters on Wednesday.
“No one bought our bid documents, no one submitted comparative proposals to challenge the original proponent, which is San Miguel. This means we will award the project to San Miguel,” Lopez said.
It was earlier decided that the winner will be the company that can offer the government the most land in the airport complex—a huge cost barrier for many interested groups.
The New Manila International Airport project, which aims to decongest Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia), will cover roughly 2,500 hectares in Bulakan, Bulacan, located about 50 kilometers northwest of the capital district.
Upon full completion, it will have at least four parallel runways and a passenger capacity of more than 100 million, or about three times the current design capacity of Naia.
“It is our single-biggest investment in the country. It is a landmark Filipino project that will be built at no cost to the government and with no subsidies or guarantees of any kind,” SMC president Ramon Ang said in a statement on Wednesday.
“What we hope to build is a long-term solution—a sustainable and world-class Philippine gateway with enough runways and facilities to meet current and future needs,” he added.
Naia, which has limited expansion options, suffers from worsening congestion amid a boom in air travel. This also prompted the private sector to step in with alternative solutions.
SMC earlier noted that delays at Naia carried a heavy price tag. By 2020, it estimated that annual losses for airlines would hit P1.1 billion while passenger productivity losses would amount to P2.8 billion.
Lopez said a groundbreaking ceremony for the New Manila International Airport could happen by the fourth quarter of 2019.
The first phase of the project is expected to be operational within four to six years after construction starts. SMC will develop and operate the airport complex through a 50-year concession period.
The New Manila International Airport is among several solutions to address growing air traffic in Manila and nearby provinces.
The government is separately evaluating an offer from a group of tycoons to expand and operate Naia while it builds a new terminal in Clark International Airport in Pampanga province, about 100 km north of Manila. The provincial government of Cavite also offered to redevelop the nearby Sangley airport into an international gateway.
According to the DOTr, SMC’s airport offer also includes an 8.4-km tollway that will connect the New Manila International Airport to the North Luzon Expressway in Marilao, Bulacan.
SMC, best known as the producer of the iconic San Miguel beer, started diversifying into infrastructure more than a decade ago. Today, its businesses include oil refining, toll roads, airports and railways, among others.
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