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BIZ BUZZ: Ready for takeoff

/ 04:02 AM July 21, 2021

It took a while but Clark International Airport in Pampanga province now has a brand-new passenger terminal.

No credit-grabbing issues in this case: The project was launched and completed within the Duterte administration.

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The terminal will have a capacity of 8 million passengers annually and comes with state-of-the-art features, such as contactless baggage handling, passenger check-ins and checkouts.

This will double Clark Airport’s existing capacity since the private sector operator—Luzon International Premiere Airport Development Corp. led by Filinvest Development Corp. and JG Summit Holdings—plans to decommission the old facility.

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The terminal itself was built by Megawide Construction Corp. and GMR Infrastructure, the tandem behind the expansion of Cebu’s international airport.

Visually, Clark Airport’s new terminal does live up to its name as one of the country’s premier gateways.

This was pointed out during a recent inspection by President Duterte, who said it would “improve connectivity, mobility, create jobs and spur economic activity in the regions.”

The project’s implementation was led by the Department of Transportation, Bases Conversion and Development Authority and Clark International Airport Corp.

The path to expanding the Clark Airport was long and spanned administrations.

Many might not even recall attempts by the private sector to build a new terminal late during the Arroyo administration.

This was the Philco Aero Group of businessman Ricardo Penson that at one point had an agreement with conglomerate San Miguel Corp. to back the Clark Airport project.

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Unfortunately for Philco Aero, its proposal for Clark Airport crossed over into the Aquino administration. It was promptly shelved given the government’s distaste for unsolicited projects.

Interest in Clark Airport and even Clark Freeport Zone saw a resurgence during the Duterte administration.

The new terminal was the first and, so far, the only project to be implemented under the so-called hybrid public-private partnership scheme. That is another way of saying there were separate auctions for building the facility itself and the 25-year operations and maintenance component.

All that is left now is for the facility to actually open and serve those people able and willing to fly during the pandemic.

We heard the event with Mr. Duterte on July 17 was initially meant to be an inauguration but was downgraded to an inspection instead.

Perhaps there were final kinks to work out and it definitely would not hurt to stretch out and maximize publicity for what is a successful project. Getting big infrastructure projects to this stage is never an easy task and congratulations to all parties should be in order.

—Miguel Camus

RLC brand consolidation

Unlike most of its peers that have different residential property brands to serve different market segments, typically classified according to purchasing power, Gokongwei-led Robinsons Land Corp. (RLC) has opted to consolidate all brands under one roof: Robinsons Residences. When RLC enlisted actress and artist Heart Evangelista as its brand ambassador, this was in support of this brand and purpose unification strategy.

“In a nutshell, we decided we want to upgrade our residential product and we want our product to be beautiful, well-designed homes that every stakeholder can be proud of,” RLC president Frederick Go told Biz Buzz.

“A singular brand, as far as standards are concerned, will have no differentiation. They all have to be beautiful and well-designed,” he said.

But it doesn’t mean that RLC will only offer products for the high-end market from hereon. Instead, price points will depend on location. Thus, a Robinsons Residences offering in Makati or BGC will be much more expensive than an offering outside Metro Manila.

“As far as the product is concerned, it should not differ as much. So if you buy in the periphery of NCR (National Capital Region), like Cainta, it will obviously be cheaper because land prices are lower, but product will still have to be beautiful and well-designed,” Go said.

By consolidating all brands (such as Robinsons Luxuria and Robinsons Communities), Go believes that the residential development team of RLC will be more focused on customer centricity and deliver above expectations.

Whereas RLC was very selective in residential developments in the past, focusing instead on building properties that deliver recurring income, such as offices, shopping malls and hotels, Go said the creation of a new division handling integrated developments would necessarily increase RLC’s investments in the residential segment moving forward.

“Today we’re building integrated estates and destination estates. Our slogan is live-work-play-inspire. These are 20 hectares, 30 hectares or 300 hectares. That necessitates that the biggest component will be residential.”

—Doris Dumlao-Abadilla
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