MANILA, APRIL 29, 2013 (PHILSTAR) By Lawrence Agcaoili - Malacañang is carefully studying three options including the possibility of shutting down and selling the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to reach a decision on whether the Philippines will adopt a single or twin airport system.

Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya told members of the Makati Business Club during their general membership meeting yesterday at the Hotel Inter-Continental Manila in Makati City that the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has forwarded to President Aquino three proposals on the airport system for approval.

Abaya said the first option involves a single airport system wherein the government would shut down and sell the NAIA and develop the Clark International Airport in Pampanga.

The second option, he said, involves a twin or dual system wherein the government would develop Clark and at the same time maximize the operations of NAIA until 2025 but at the same time look for an alternative site for a new airport that would be 25 kilometers or 30 minutes away from the existing gateway.

The DOTC chief said the third option also involves a twin or dual system wherein the government would jointly develop Clark and NAIA and then decide whether or not to put up an alternative airport.

“Previously, the direction was to move all NAIA’s current operations to Clark International Airport within the next five to seven years. What is clear now is that we need Clark to absorb some of the traffic in NAIA. Even if initially, it seems more cost efficient to have a single main gateway, there are dual airport systems existing around the world that actually perform well commercially,” he said in his speech.

He said the agency is looking at ways to further increase the capacity of the old NAIA airport to 60 events or landings and take offs per hour from the average 40 events per hour.

He added that there is no available land to further extend the runway of NAIA or put up a new terminal as it is surrounded by subdivisions and commercial areas.

Abaya pointed out that Cabinet secretaries are leaning towards the second option jointly developing NAIA and Clark and at the same time looking for a site for a new international gateway that may involve the reclamation of Laguna de Bay or Manila Bay as well as the Sangley airport in Cavite.

“We will be seeking approval from the President to aggressively expand and promote Clark while at the same time continuing the ongoing improvements and upgrades that will maximize NAIA’s capacity. The studies we’ve been doing show that both can operate at the same time without compromising commercial viability,” he added.

The Clark International Airport Corp. is set to complete the expansion of the existing terminal in the gateway in Pampanga worth P360 million by October to double the capacity to five million passengers from 2.5 million and is looking at putting up a new P12 billion budget passenger terminal.


Due to unclear gov’t policy... PAL, SMC put on hold plan to build $6-B airport By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 7, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) has put on hold indefinitely its planned $6-billion international airport that would serve as an alternative to the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) due to unclear policy from the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

PAL president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang said in a press briefing that the proposed international gateway that was supposed to be presented to President Aquino last month has been postponed indefinitely.

I’m just waiting for everyone else to put their cards down. That is when we will present this to the national government,” he said.

Ang said PAL – which is jointly owned by tobacco magnate Lucio Tan as well as diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) – would wait for clear policy from the Aquino administration on the establishment of a new airport.

He cited the case of the P17.5-billion Mactan-Cebu international airport project wherein the DOTC issued the terms of reference (TOR) last Dec. 27 preventing companies with interests in airlines and airline-related business from participating in the bidding.

The TOR was opposed by major bidders including PAL, SMC, and Cebu Air Inc. (Cebu Pacific) of taipan John L. Gokongwei Jr. prompting the DOTC to revise the guidelines.

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Under Special Bid Bulletin 02-2013 issued last Feb. 1, several provisions were revised including the supposed ban on owners of airlines to participate in the bidding. The revised guidelines stated that “if the prospective bidder is a consortium and any consortium member or such consortium members’ affiliates is an airline-related entity, then such consortium member cannot own or be proposed to own more than 33 percent if the total equity in such consortium.”

“If there is more than one consortium member that is an airline-related entity, then such consortium members cannot own or be proposed to own an aggregate of more than 33-percent total equity in such corporation.”

Ang lamented the decision of the DOTC to limit the participation of certain companies in the project that would lead to the establishment of the country’s second largest international gateway.

“If you want the best deal, you let everyone bid. That’s what you call transparent. If you want to be transparent, you have to let everyone join because it will maximize the potential of the project,” the PAL chief stressed.

He pointed out that SMC is the biggest investor in the country having invested $10 billion for the re-fleeting of PAL, $2.7 billion for the refinery of Petron Corp., $2.4 billion for power generating projects, $1 billion for the connector road, among others.

He cited that several countries have a multi-airport system wherein several airports co-exist.

“Is it a good idea for a Filipino company to build something? Our project can coexist with NAIA and the Clark international airport. I cannot understand the 33- percent restriction,” he said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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