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MANILA, Philippines – The race is on to attract parties to take on the massive P170.6-billion rehabilitation project of the country’s ailing international airport. So far, five potential bidders have already signaled their interest in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
As of Friday, September 15, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) confirmed that the parties who have bought bid documents include the Manila International Airport Consortium, San Miguel Corporation, GMR, Spark 888 Management, and the Asian Airport Consortium.
Each of them must have paid a non-refundable P2.75 million to be considered prospective bidders and be able to access the concession agreement and other documents that provide background information on the project. (READ: Bidding for NAIA rehab, privatization begins. Here’s what it covers.)
Meanwhile, the government has even prepared a video, obtained by Rappler, used by Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista to promote the airport to foreign investors during roadshows.
The government hopes that their private sector partner can help turn around NAIA’s reputation as one of the worst international airports in the world. But what exactly do we know about these potential bidders so far?
The Manila International Airport Consortium (MIAC) has been involved in rehabilitation talks since the government made privatization plans public. And now, they’re back in the race as MIAC confirmed in a statement that they’re currently assessing the documents to “determine the consortium’s next steps.”
MIAC is composed of some of the biggest conglomerates in the country: Aboitiz InfraCapital, AC Infrastructure, Asia’s Emerging Dragon Corporation, Alliance Global-InfraCorp Development, Filinvest Development Corporation, JG Summit Infrastructure Holdings Corporation, and New York-based Global Infrastructure Partners.
Earlier this year, MIAC sent an unsolicited proposal for a P267-billion rehabilitation program that would supposedly double the declared capacity of the country’s main gateway from 31 million passengers per year to around 70 million in the long run.
The government ultimately chose to reject their proposal in favor of a public bid.
San Miguel Corporation (SMC) is one of the country’s largest conglomerates with interests in food, beverage, energy, infrastructure, and telecommunications. In 2022, SMC’s consolidated revenues reached P1.5 trillion.
This wouldn’t be the first time SMC has ventured into the aviation industry. San Miguel, through its subsidiary San Miguel Aerocity Inc., is also developing, constructing, operating, and maintaining the New Manila International Airport, also known as the Bulacan International Airport.
While San Miguel bagged the contract to build and run the Bulacan airport for 50 years, the project has also been marred by controversy. Environmental advocates say that the construction of the airport is among the contributing factors to flooding in Bulacan. There were also concerns that the project would displace communities and disrupt the local ecosystem
The GMR Group of India is also among the parties that have already purchased bid documents. The conglomerate operates several airports in India and also has other infrastructure projects in Singapore, Indonesia, and Greece.
In the Philippines, GMR also partnered with Megawide to develop and operate the Mactan Cebu International Airport, which recently became the first airport in the Philippines to receive the Airport Customer Experience Accreditation for Airport Service Quality from the Airports Council International.
GMR and Megawide were also part of a failed bid to rehabilitate NAIA in 2020. Although Megawide and GMR had already obtained original proponent status for the project, MIAA revoked it in late 2020 after the National Economic and Development Authority raised concerns over insufficient equity in the proposal.
What happens now?
Other prospective bidders include Spark 888 Management and the Asian Airport Consortium, but the DOTr has not given any further details about the two parties.
The list is only expected to grow as Secretary Bautista is going on a roadshow to promote the project, particularly to foreign-owned companies or consortiums.
Under the Public Service Act passed by former president Rodrigo Duterte, airports, airlines, railways, and other public utilities can now be fully owned by foreigners – and the DOTr plans to take advantage of this liberalization.
Bautista will be meeting interested foreign investors in Singapore on September 14 to 15. On September 17, he’ll fly to Paris for the second leg of the roadshow.
A pre-bid conference will be held on September 22, after which the government will conduct one-on-one meetings and site visits with prospective investors. The bid submission deadline is on December 27, 2023, after which bids will be opened and evaluated by the DOTr. – Rappler.com