Conglomerates in talks for 'super consortium' to upgrade NAIA

TALKS ONGOING.The expansion and/or management of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport could eventually fall into the hands of the country's largest companies. Rappler file photo

TALKS ONGOING.The expansion and/or management of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport could eventually fall into the hands of the country's largest companies.

Rappler file photo

MANILA, Philippines – With their profits tied to the continuing growth of the economy, some of the country's biggest conglomerates are discussing the possibility of banding together to finally upgrade the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Andrew Tan-led Alliance Global Incorporated and Lucio Tan-led LT Group Incorporated both confirmed that talks are ongoing in separate disclosures to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Thursday, December 7.

Both conglomerates said they are "in talks with other business groups to participate in a project involving the NAIA."

They added: "We wish to clarify that this is still in the exploratory phase and no firm commitments or formal agreements have been reached, including on the composition of the consortium."

They were responding to a Manila Standard report that said 7 groups including Ayala Corporation, Gotianun-led Filinvest Development Corporation (FDC), Gokongwei-led JG Summit Holdings Incorporated, Aboitiz Equity Ventures Incorporated, Manuel Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, Megaworld Corporation, and the LT Group were eyeing coming together to undertake the rehabilitation and expansion of the NAIA.

The report said that "the plan under discussion would be to upgrade and enhance the operational efficiencies of all existing terminals of NAIA, covering both landside and airside (except air traffic services), to meet the International Civil Aviation Organization standards and develop the main gateway airport."

Most of these groups have previously expressed interest in the P74.56-billion project to privatize and expand the NAIA which the government put on hold earlier this year until it comes up with a holistic approach to redeveloping key airports.

Two of the 7 groups, JG Summit and FDC, have already come together to submit an P839-billion unsolicited proposal to expand the Clark International Airport in Pampanga, which is seen as an alternative to decongest the NAIA.

Back in July, Philippine Airlines (PAL) – which is controlled by Lucio Tan but is not part of the LT Group – said it would be ready to invest $400 million to expand its dedicated hub, the NAIA Terminal 2.

Two notable absences in the "super consortium" are Henry Sy-led SM Group, the country's largest conglomerate, and San Miguel Corporation, which have both submitted proposals to build new airports. SM is proposing one in Cavite while San Miguel is eyeing one in Bulacan. – Rappler.com