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Deal on Naia rehab seen this month

/ 04:49 AM January 13, 2020

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) expects to complete negotiations with a group of tycoons for the 15-year rehabilitation and operations of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the country’s busiest gateway, within the month.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said during a business conference last week in Clark, Pampanga, that talks between the Manila International Airport Authority, a DOTr attached agency, and the private sector group known as Naia Consortium should be finished “in no more than two more meetings.”

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He said the DOTr would cancel the unsolicited proposal and “offer it to parties and individuals that are ready to accept the terms and conditions of the government” if they fail to come to terms within January 2020.

A Naia Consortium spokesperson said there were no delays and they were moving toward finalizing the concession agreement.

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The P102-billion offer, which will expand Naia’s capacity and ensure its place as Manila’s main air hub in the coming years, was approved last Nov. 29, 2019, by the board of the National Economic and Development Authority, which is chaired by President Duterte.

A maximum 80-day negotiation period was imposed after the Neda Board’s approval, Transportation Undersecretary Ruben Reinoso earlier said.

Tugade’s deadline puts the timing of a bidding through a Swiss Challenge around February this year. The bidding exercise is expected in the second quarter of 2019. It was pushed back after the DOTr sought revisions in the agreement that lowered the government’s risk.

Naia Consortium’s offer combines the operations, maintenance and upgrade of Naia.

The consortium plans to expand existing terminals to increase capacity to support 65 million passengers annually versus the airport’s design capacity of 31 million passengers a year. In 2018, Naia handled 45 million passengers.

Apart from addressing cramped terminals, Naia Consortium wants to increase flights operating out of the gateway. It said hourly takeoff and landing movements would rise to 52 movements, up by a third.

The upgrades will be done in phases, mainly taking place between 2021 and 2024.

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Naia Consortium’s members include Ayala Corp., Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Alliance Global Group Inc. of tycoon Andrew Tan, Asia Emerging Dragon of the Lucio Tan group, Filinvest Development Corp. of the Gotianun family, JG Summit Holdings Inc. of the Gokongweis and Metro Pacific Investments Corp. Its technical partner is Singapore’s Changi Airports International.

The offer is among several projects aimed at easing congestion in Manila and nearby provinces.

The Neda Board also approved San Miguel Corp.’s $15-billion New Manila International Airport project in Bulacan province while Cavite province is seeking to build its own $10-billion air hub in Sangley Point. Clark International Airport, another Naia alternative, is also set to open a new passenger terminal by the middle of 2020.

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