EDITORIAL: LONG WAIT FOR BUILD, OPERATE SINGLE AIRPORT TERMINAL


MANILA, AUGUST 12, 2013 (PHILSTAR) How long does it take to build and operate a single airport terminal in this country? About four years to build, and over a decade to end litigation and make it fully operational.

In 2008, with its operation mired in litigation, the ceiling of the third terminal of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport collapsed. The incident gave impetus to the rehabilitation of the facility, which could greatly ease congestion at the two NAIA terminals.

The rehabilitation is scheduled for completion next year. But this could be moved back further as the government continues its legal wrangling over compensation for its expropriation of the NAIA 3 from contractor Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc.

Last week the Court of Appeals more than doubled the compensation amount set by the Pasay City Regional Trial Court, from the net sum of over $116 million to more than $371 million at six percent legal interest as of last July 31.

The government is expected to challenge the ruling, and the case could still reach the Supreme Court, where a final ruling could take a few more years. Piatco’s German partner Fraport AG still has a pending arbitration case against the Philippines, currently back to square one, at the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes in Washington.

The government is forging ahead with the rehabilitation of the terminal, although foreign carriers are reportedly hesitating to move to NAIA 3 unless the legal problems are settled with finality. The original contractor, Japan’s Takenaka Corp., is undertaking the rehabilitation at a cost of P1.9 billion, with the full operation expected in August next year.

The Philippines has gained notoriety for the sorry state of its airports, especially when compared with those of many of its neighbors. The scheduled full operation of the NAIA 3 has already been moved from the first quarter.

The government must do its best to ensure that its latest legal setback will not further prolong the long wait for a badly needed aviation facility.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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