ARRC to gov’t: Bid out operations, maintenance of Clark airport, not NAIA

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PRIVATE HANDS. The consortium of Solar group’s Wilson Tieng and Henry Sy-led Belle Corporation wants the upgrading of the Clark International Airport to be handled by the private sector. Photo from Clark International Airport website

MANILA, Philippines – The government should bid out the operations, maintenance, and upgrade of Clark International Airport, not that of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), said All-Asia Resources and Reclamation Corporation (ARRC).

Citing the January 2017 report of international think tank CAPA Aviation Center, Wilson Tieng-led ARRC said NAIA should only be upgraded, but not privatized, because privatizing it would discourage the construction of a new airport. (READ: Tugade wants Clark airport rehab privatized)

"We can have two airports we can be proud of, not just one. Clark is underutilized because it really needs to have a new terminal and infrastructure for easy access. It is the one that must be privatized, not NAIA," ARRC vice chairman Edmund Lim said in a statement.

He added that the Clark airport only needs to be upgraded and "perhaps should be the one whose operations and maintenance should be privatized."

His statement came after Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center Executive Director Ferdinand Pecson said the government is putting on hold the auction for the P74.56-billion ($1.66-billion) NAIA Development project until it comes up with "a complete and holistic approach to airports for the greater capital region."

Lim said NAIA has two intersecting runways and limited space for expansion, especially for a new parallel runway.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) had said NAIA has no expansion space to cope with current and future growth and must be replaced by a new one, preferably in Sangley.

Sangley as 2nd main airport

For ARRC, boosting the Clark airport and having another international gateway in Sangley would be best for public convenience and coping with demand growth in the future.

"These two are strategically located to serve the northern and southern parts of Luzon. Those in Metro Manila can choose which one is more convenient to them which will also help ease traffic," Lim said.

ARRC, the consortium of the Sy family’s Belle Corporation and Tieng’s Solar group, had resubmitted its P1.3-trillion Philippine Global Gateway project proposal to the Duterte administration, which includes an airport, seaport, and special economic zone at a 2,500-hectare reclaimed area off Sangley Point.

This P1.3-trillion project is competing with San Miguel Corporation’s plan to build a $10-billion airport in Bulacan.

According to Lim, an international airport in Sangley can be up and running in 4 to 5 years once the government gives a notice to proceed. (READ: SONA 2016: Duterte eyes Sangley Point to help decongest NAIA)

"It will be built by our company in partnership with foreign partners without the need for a single cent from the government. We have already signed all the contracts to make this happen. We are ready but we need the government to give its nod," he said.

Should the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board approve one of these unsolicited proposals, it will still be subject to Swiss challenge, where other investors will have the opportunity to submit a better proposal. But the original proponent would still have the right to match their offers.

No matter what the government decides to approve, San Miguel chief Ramon S. Ang said his company will participate in the bidding for the development of a new airport. – Rappler.com