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IATA to PH gov’t: Act on airport proposals now

Chrisee Dela Paz

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IATA to PH gov’t: Act on airport proposals now
'They've looked at so many proposals. I think it is time to do something. Let us make sure it (a new international airport) is just big enough,' says a regional director for the International Air Transport Association

MANILA, Philippines – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) encouraged the Philippine government to act on airport development proposals immediately, as the number of travelers passing through Manila gateways annually is seen to rise to 140 million in 2035.

“In the last 10 years, I must have seen 20 different proposals from different bodies and different administrations. I think we have analyzed these proposals enough. Now, we need the government to act on it,” Vinoop Goel, IATA’s regional director for airport, passenger, cargo, and security in the Asia Pacific, said on the sidelines of the SITA launch in Makati City on Wednesday, November 16.

There are currently two unsolicited proposals submitted to the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

These are Henry Sy-led Belle Corporation’s and Solar Group’s Tieng for All-Asia Resources & Reclamation Corporation’s (ARRC) $50-billion proposal to develop an airport and economic zone at Sangley Point, as well as San Miguel Corporation’s $10-billion airport on reclaimed land in Manila Bay.

Other than San Miguel, Manuel V. Pangilinan’s Metro Pacific Investments Corporation had also said it is open to building a new airport that will support NAIA.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade earlier said his office is in talks with several investors who are interested to build another international airport to serve as the nation’s premier gateway. (READ: Tugade open to unsolicited proposals for new airport)

Tugade said his office is studying all proposals but has two conditions: the project should not entail government spending and there should be no sovereign guarantee.

‘Act now’

“They’ve looked at so many proposals. I think it is time to do something. Let us make sure it’s just big enough,” IATA’s regional director said.

In his presentation, Goel said by 2035, IATA expects about 140 million passengers passing through Manila airports annually, from the current 60 million.

“The country’s aviation industry will also be able to contribute about $23 billion in gross domestic product in 2035, from the current $10 billion,” he added.

To keep up with the rising demand, Goel said the Philippine government should “fix operation issues, finalize [a] master plan for Metro Manila, act on plans, and optimize capacity at airports.” (READ: DOTr’s hits and misses in 1st 100 days: NAIA, EDSA traffic, MRT3)

The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) is suffering from congestion in its terminals, where 34.1 million passengers passed through in 2014. This was above its handling capacity of 28 million passengers per year.

Local airlines recently agreed to undertake the maintenance of public restrooms at NAIA’s 4 terminals – at no cost to the government.

During Tugade’s first 100 days, the department was able to increase on-time flight arrivals at NAIA to 72% from 41%.

The department’s solution: move general aviation flights to Naval Station Sangley Point in Cavite and transfer some domestic flights to Clark International Airport.

A P74.56-billion ($1.66-billion) deal to upgrade the NAIA is also set to be bid out via public-private partnership (PPP). –

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