Conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) obtained a coveted original proponent status for its proposal to build a P700 billion “aerotropolis” in Bulacan province, giving it a big advantage ahead of a bidding process yet to be approved by the government.
This was confirmed on Friday by Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade, who spoke to reporters at the sidelines of the Philippine Aviation Day business forum in Makati City.
Tugade said a final decision will be made by board of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), chaired by President Rodrigo Duterte.
An original proponent status gives a firm a key advantage should the project be auctioned off under a Swiss challenge, a type of bidding process that allows rivals to submit competing offers. In case another group submit a better offer, the original proponent has the right to match those terms and win the project.
“A formal proposal [ for Bulacan] was submitted to us, and we have gone over the proposal, the completeness of the proposal, and by the end of last week, we have forwarded the proposal to NEDA for final approval,” Tugade said.
On another private sector offer to build an international airport on reclaimed land in Sangley Point, Cavite, Tugade said they were waiting for the formal submission of that project. He said all unsolicited offers should adhere to the government’s requirements for no state subsidies and guarantees.
SMC hopes to eventually replace Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport with its offer to build an air gateway in Bulakan, Bulacan.
This comes as Naia, the country’s busiest airport, struggles with worsening congestion. Expansion options are also limited by its location within Metro Manila.
SMC’s Bulacan proposal, which will rise in a 2,500-hectare parcel of land, would have four parallel runways (pairs of 3.5 kilometres and 2.6 km) with a provision for two more if required, based on briefing materials it earlier showed to the DOTr.
It is designed to have a a capacity of 100 million passengers per year, with provisions to double this to 200 million passengers annually.
Naia handles over 40 million passengers per year against its design capacity of 30 million passengers. It has two runways, which intersect.
According to SMC, air transport delays in Naia already cost airlines about P1.1 billion annually, and this would increase to P3.8 billion by 2020 if the situation did not improve. For passengers, productivity losses also carry a hefty price tag: P2.8 billion today and P11 billion by 2020.
The first ever Philippine Aviation Day was organised by the Air Carriers Association of the Philippines and the International Air Transport Association. /kga
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