100% of NAIA-3 operational by end-2013: Abaya

Rappler.com
The Aquino government, the 4th to handle NAIA-3's complex legal and structural woes, is finally about to seal a US$45 million deal with Japanese firm Takenaka to complete the 23 airport systems and rehabilitate some parts of the the airport facility

BEHIND THE SCENES. At the baggage handling area of NAIA-3, airport staff manually handle passengers' bags since the codes to keep the systems working are with Japanese contractor Takenaka. Photo taken by Lala Rimando in 2010 for the Naia-3 chapter in the book "Seven Deadly Deals" published by Newsbreak

MANILA, Philippines – The government is confident that the NAIA Terminal 3 will become operational by December 2013.

Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said in a briefing on Tuesday, January 15, that the government is expected to sign and complete an agreement with Takenaka Corp, the Japanese firm that built the airport terminal, within January.

“We could finish the commission and rehabilitation of the 23 systems within the year,” Abaya said. 

The agreement will include a US$45 million deal for the Japanese firm to complete and upgrade the facilities and systems at the terminal. 

The background

After the almost-finished terminal was mothballed in 2002 and partially opened in 2008, the NAIA-3 has long-delayed promises of a fully-operational and integrated services.

Currently, only half of NAIA-3 is operational, with just budget carriers Cebu Pacific, AirPhil Express, as well as ANA, or All Nippon Airways, mounting flights there.   

This Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) project between the government and a consortium of Filipino and German companies was marred in legal battles here and abroad. Along the way, addressing the structural issues were put on hold, with the government and Takenaka taking years to agree on how to move the project forward.

The government has pursued corruption and money laundering allegations in its cases against German airport operator Fraport and its Filipino partner, the Cheng-led Piatco Inc., in arbitration courts abroad (the Philippine government won these cases). Takenaka, on the other hand, pursued — and eventually won — a collection case in an arbitration case in London and in local courts for the amounts the consortium owed it.

In its negotiations with the government, Takenaka wanted assurance of payment, while the government wanted Takenaka to complete its unfinished work. (In July 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that Piatco must settle the $172 million it owed Takenaka.)

Old promises

Previous DOTC Secretary Mar Roxas, who had said NAIA-3 would be fully operational by end-2012, announced the US$45 million deal with Takenaka way back in March 2012.

President Benigno Aquino III, the 4th president to deal with the complicated problems of NAIA-3, promised in his 2012 State of the Nation Address (SONA) that the airport facility will be structurally sound before he delivers his 2013 SONA. – Rappler.com, with reports from Cai Ordinario