Tugade: Government still reviewing Consortium’s bid to modernize Naia

Photo from CNN Philippines

THE government has about three weeks left to complete the review and negotiations of an unsolicited proposal for the modernization of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia), at least according to its self-imposed timeline.

Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade said his office is still negotiating the terms of the unsolicited proposal of Naia Consortium, a group of the country’s largest conglomerates that offered to modernize Manila’s main gateway at no cost to the government.

“We are nearing a decision, but I cannot say if it is a yes or no at this time, when we are still reviewing it, or when things are still being negotiated,” he said in a chance interview.

He added the government hopes to announce whether Naia Consortium will receive the original proponent status “within the month.”

The Naia Consortium recently submitted its amended proposal to the Department of Transportation (DOTr), shortening the concession period to 15 years from 35 years, and the cost to P105 billion from P350 billion. Included under its original proposal are the expansion and interconnection of the existing terminals of the Naia, upgrading airside facilities and the development of commercial facilities.

It aims to increase the annual capacity of the Naia to 100 million passengers by the end of the concession period.

“There are two things we are still discussing, but I can’t divulge it because it’ll be unfair to other parties,” he said, referring to the separate proposal of Megawide Construction Corp.

The offer of Megawide Construction Corp. and its partner GMR Infrastructure Ltd. involves a more affordable $3-billion price tag, with a concession period of 18 years.

The multibillion-dollar proposal is divided into several phases, of which the first six years of the operations would focus on the expansion of the existing terminals, the optimization of the current runways and the capacity expansion of the whole airport complex.

Immediately upon takeover, the group proposes to construct full-length parallel taxiways for both runways, an additional rapid-exit taxiway for the primary runway, the extension of a second runway and the provision of maximum aircraft stands.

These solutions will increase airfield capacity to 950 to 1,000 aircraft movements per day, a 35-percent increase from the current 730 aircraft movements daily.

Within the first two years, the group will rehabilitate and expand the existing terminals, which will roughly double the space and result in over 700,000 square meters of terminal area.

By that time, the airport will be able to handle as many as 72 million passengers annually, a huge jump from the current 30 million annual passenger capacity.

Tugade noted that the offer is still live, but the proposal of Naia Consortium is being prioritized as it is considered the project’s first proponent.

“It is not yet rejected,” Tugade noted. “Naia Consortium is still first proponent.”

The Naia Consoritum submitted its proposal to the transportation department on February 12, 2018. Megawide’s proposal came second on March 1.

By virtue of the build-operate-transfer law, only the proposal of Naia Consortium has been opened so far, as it was the first to submit its offer.

This, however, does not mean the group will be awarded the original proponent status—at least not yet. It may still be rejected on several grounds, including technical unviability and lack of new technology, among others.

If the first proposal gets rejected, then the implementing agency will have the authority to open and review the second offer submitted to it.

Groups have been calling for the redevelopment of the Naia, as it has already reached its peak, handling 42 million passengers last year, way above its maximum capacity of 35 million passengers annually. This year the throughput is expected at 44 million passengers.

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