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RSA: Keep Naia running until Bulacan Airport opens

/ 04:05 AM December 19, 2020

Keep Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) running until a massive new “airport city” in Bulacan province is finished.

This was the message of tycoon and San Miguel Corp. (SMC) president Ramon S. Ang as the food, beverage and infrastructure conglomerate launched a fresh bid to operate and maintain Naia through a 10-year concession.

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SMC, which plans to start construction of its P735-billion New Manila International Airport (NMIA) in Bulacan early next year, is also upping the ante by promising it will take no share of Naia’s revenues during the contract period.

“Unlike all the proposals that required a share in the revenues of the Naia, including passenger fees and lease rentals, we are not interested in the revenues,” Ang said in a statement on Friday.

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“Our proposal is brought on only by the need to have it running effectively and safely for the Filipino people, until our Bulacan airport project is up,” Ang added.

“And until our airport is ready, that task needs to be done,” he said.

SMC’s NMIA, which aims to have a passenger capacity of over 100 million annually—three times Naia’s current design capacity—will be one of the country’s largest infrastructure projects.

The eventual closure of Naia will also provide a massive boost to SMC’s airport project, which will contend with less competition in the battle for Manila’s skies.

In the statement, Ang emphasized the eventual fate of Naia would be left to the government to decide.

Nevertheless, he touted the benefits of the shorter concession period of 10 years which will “give government a freer hand to do what it wants with the Naia, once the Bulacan airport is completed and operational.”

SMC reiterated that the Naia complex, which spans 646 hectares, could be sold for up to P2 trillion for the Philippine government.

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SMC, which first pitched the Bulacan airport in 2016, had asked the Department of Transportation to wind down operations of Naia within 24 months of the opening of its new gateway.

That provision was not accepted as the department cited a policy of not providing any guarantees.

SMC emerged as a conten­der for Naia after the influential board of the Manila Internatio­nal Airport Authority (MIAA) abruptly revoked the front-runner status of the consortium of Megawide Construction Corp. and GMR Infrastructure, a leading airport operator, last Dec. 15.

The venture, which is proposing to rehabilitate Naia to the tune of P109 billion at no cost to the government, was given no clear reason for the revocation of its original proponent status (OPS), which grants the holder a crucial advantage: the right to match the best offer during the mandated Swiss Challenge and win the project.

MIAA board chair and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade suggested during a Senate hearing on Thursday the decision was not yet final and would be confirmed in the next MIAA board meeting.

Megawide-GMR was given its OPS last July after Naia Consortium, the group of tycoons that first pitched the rehabilitation of Naia in 2018, withdrew as the global health crisis pummeled the aviation sector.

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TAGS: NAIA, Ramon S. Ang
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