Friday, May 23, 2014

SanMig brings intl airport plan to President Aquino

San Miguel brings its airport plan to President Aquino

CLIFF VENZON, Nikkei staff writer
This rendering shows the airport San Miguel hopes to develop on the east side of Manila Bay.
MANILA -- San Miguel has pitched its plan to build a massive airport to President Benigno Aquino.
     The unsolicited proposal -- which comes amid constant criticism of this metropolis's aging and dilapidated aviation hub -- was formally presented to Aquino on Wednesday, San Miguel President Ramon Ang said late Thursday.
     Details were first disclosed by the Nikkei Asian Review in March.
     A copy of the proposal handed to Aquino and Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya shows the $10 billion airport would feature three terminals -- one main hub for full-service carriers and two terminals to serve the growing budget travel industry.
     The airport would have four runways and 164 contact gates; it would be able to accommodate more than 100 million passengers per year, the copy shows.
     "You can be sure that there will be no congestion for the next 30 years," Ang told reporters on the sidelines of a Philippine Airlines event Thursday. The flag carrier is 49% owned by San Miguel, also known for its beer.
     The entire plan would require a 16 sq. km reclamation project. The airport would take up half of that area, with retail space, a cargo zone, aircraft maintenance center and aviation support hub sitting on the remainder of the land.
     The airport would be located on the eastern side of Manila Bay, in the southwest of greater Manila, according to a blueprint prepared by American airport master planner Aecom.
     The project would also include the construction of an 18km express railway and 15km expressway linking the airport and Manila's central business districts. According to the plan, it would take 11 minutes on the expressway to get between the Makati central business district and the airport.
     Ang said San Miguel was open to partnering with other Filipino conglomerates such as SM Investments, the Ayala Group, and even with Philippine Airline rival Cebu Pacific.
     Ang is also holding the door open to challengers. "It is a suggestion for the government to call for a public bidding," he said. "I don't want people to see that we have an advantage more than everybody else." 
     The government has repeatedly said it prefers to solicit projects rather than field unsolicited proposals.
     Aquino's office would not say if the president is leaning toward San Miguel's proposal.
     Presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma said the proposal still has to be evaluated by the transportation and socio-economic planning departments.
     Abaya texted the Nikkei Asian Review that he would set up another meeting with Ang about the project.
     "We will provide them more details," Ang said.
     Manila is in dire need of a new airport. The 33-year-old Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the country's primary gateway, sits on only 4 sq. km of real estate. Last year it handled 32.8 million passengers -- well beyond its official capacity.
     One of its two runways only opened last year. The airport is marred by frequent flight delays and dilapidated facilities. An online travel guide has voted it the world's worst airport.
     San Miguel, the Philippines' most diversified conglomerate, said the new airport would be a boon to the country's drive to boost tourism and reflect the country's economic growth, which stood at 7.2% last year, the fastest in Southeast Asia.    
     The airport "will outclass everybody in the region," Ang said in an earlier interview. NIKKEI Asian Review

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