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Cavite local gov’t seeks partner for airport plan

/ 04:10 AM October 09, 2019

A new international airport plan in Cavite province that aims to ease air congestion in Manila and potentially rival conglomerate San Miguel Corp.’s $15 billion Bulacan air gateway is getting ready to launch.

The provincial government of Cavite is set to publish a request for joint venture proposals—an early step in the selection of a partner for the development of the $10-billion Sangley Point International Airport.

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The Inquirer has seen a copy of the request document, which indicated keen interest from Chinese investors.

“Project financing is being arranged and raised by the [provincial government of Cavite] through the development financial institutions and policy banks of the People’s Republic of China,” a portion of the document showed.

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A Cavite government representative said that while Chinese groups were being lined up, they were also looking to lure investors from Japan, South Korea and the United States.

The document said the draft joint venture and development agreement would be available from Oct. 11 through Nov. 11 this year. The deadline for the submission of proposals is on Nov. 25.

It added that the project comes with “no national government guarantee, subsidy or equity.”

The project will be led by the Cavite government using its Public-Private Partnership Code, which will subject any proposal to a competitive challenge. This also means the project is not required to undergo the approval process of the National Economic and Development Authority.

The Department of Transportation had earlier said it would not object to the project. The DOTr will still have a say since its agencies will need to clear certain flying rights once the airport is operational.

The proposal, which will require significant land reclamation, will transform the existing Sangley Airport into a new international air hub.

The first phase of the plan will cost around $3 billion and can be completed as early as 2022, the Cavite representative said. This component will have a single runway with a passenger capacity of 25 million a year.

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Future phases will depend on the Duterte administration’s decision on the offer of Naia Consortium to operate and upgrade Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport for a period of 15 years, the representative said.

SMC, the food, drinks and infrastructure giant, is also investing in a new gateway serving Manila and nearby provinces.

SMC president Ramon S. Ang said his Bulacan Airport, about 50 kilometers northwest of Manila, could open in five years with four runways and an annual capacity of 100 million passengers.

The Cavite representative downplayed potential competition, noting that the new Sangley Airport, which is located at a “straight line” distance of about 11 kilometers from Naia, would serve the southern capital district and nearby provinces.

The DOTr is currently upgrading Sangley Airport, a former air force base, for general aviation and limited commercial operations within the year.

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