Tieng, Sy group optimistic Sangley airport proposal will be approved

MANILA, Philippines – The group of Henry Sy Sr and William Tieng hopes to start by 2017 the construction of its P1.3-trillion Philippine Global Gateway project, which includes an airport, seaport, and special economic zone at a 2,500-hectare reclaimed area off Sangley Point in Cavite.

The group's proposal had been welcomed by no other than President Rodrigo Duterte himself, said All-Asia Resources & Reclamation Corporation (ARRC) vice chairman Edmundo Lim in a media roundtable in Makati City on Friday, December 9.

"The President had talked to Art (Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade) and Pernia (Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia)...Then he told us: 'Don't expect that I will approve it today, but give me a few days.' This was said in front of the Cabinet members," Lim told reporters.

The ARRC said the proposal is now up for approval of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board. (READ: PH contractors eye up to $100-B infra deals with Chinese firms)

"Once we get that, we can start by 2017. What the President wants is for the construction to be finished before his term is over," Lim added.

The ARRC executive said his company expects the construction of the project to be done in 5 years – just in time for the end of Duterte's term in 2022.

"It could be in less than 5 years. The airport component can be done earlier while reclaiming the land. Airport investment is initially at P800 billion, [while] seaport and special economic zone is at P500 billion," Lim said.

To make it convenient for passengers passing through the proposed Sangley airport, Lim said it will be connected to Metro Manila by an underwater tunnel near SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City or by an extension of the Manila-Cavite expressway.

The Sangley airport plan is seen to accommodate up to 90 million passengers per year "as soon as its second runway is finished," Lim added. (READ: IATA to PH gov't: Act on airport proposals now)

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

Should the NEDA Board approve the ARRC's unsolicited proposal, it will still be subject to Swiss challenge, where other investors will have the opportunity to submit a better proposal. But the ARRC would still have the right to match their offers.

Convert Danilo Atienza to budget airport

While waiting for the bigger Philippine Global Gateway project to be approved, the ARRC executive said his company also proposed to the Duterte administration the use of the Danilo Atienza Air Base (DAA) in Cavite as location for a P3.3-billion airport terminal for low-cost carriers and general aviation purposes.

"While waiting for the new airport, what do we do? So what is likely to be done, you have a 2.4-kilometer runway, good enough to land an Airbus A320, not just for general aviation planes. If you put in a low-cost carrier operation, handling 20% of all the flights in NAIA, there will be bigger volume," Lim told reporters.

Lim said the Danilo Atienza budget airport proposal is seen to reduce air traffic movements at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) by 20%, to 32 air traffic movements (ATMs) per hour from the current 40 ATMs/hour.

The ARRC official also said operators of Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Air showed interest in relocating some of their domestic flights from NAIA to the proposed Danilo Atienza airport.

Lim said the ARRC commissioned Danish consulting engineering company Ramboll Group to conduct the study for these proposals.

According to Lim, the group has financing ready for the construction of these projects.

"When we went to China during the President's visit, we signed an MOU (memorandum of understanding) for $20 billion, so that already takes care of the airport project, locally, we're partnering with the SM Group," he added.

The group had also said that it signed an MOU with state-owned China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) for "stronger support" for the Philippine Global Gateway proposal. – Rappler.com