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12
May

MVP Group offers to develop Clark airport

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By Iris Gonzales | The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The group led by business tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan has offered to operate and maintain the Clark International Airport in Pampanga as it continues to explore prospects rolled out under the government’s aggressive infrastructure program.

Industry sources said the MVP Group proposed a joint venture with the Bases Conversion and Development Authority and Clark Airport “for the expansion, operations and maintenance of Clark Airport.”

The group is also reportedly keen on building an ambitious express railway between Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue in Makati and Clark.

 But the sources said the proposal, submitted just recently, covers only expansion and operations and maintenance (O&M), which the government said would likely be left in the hands of the private sector. The Duterte administration has indicated it will pursue by itself the development and modernization of the airport.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said the new development policy for Clark Airport, the nearest alternative to the severely congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) would be pursued by the government except the O&M part.

He said this is the faster route rather than face delays that may transpire with public biddings involving the private sector.

Private companies have submitted proposals for the development and modernization of the airport. These include a $5-billion offer from Megawide Construction Corp. and India’s GMR Infrastructure, the consortium behind the Mactan-Cebu International Airport.

Aside from the Megawide consortium, the Gokongwei family’s JG Summit Holdings Inc. and Gotianun-controlled Filinvest Development Corp. also submitted a $3.7-billion proposal.

Worsening congestion at the NAIA  has highlighted the need for an alternative airport.

The Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce of the Philippines (JFC) has supported the plan to use Clark Airport as an alternative to NAIA.

Ebb Hinchliffe, executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce, said the geography of Metro Manila does not support NAIA which is no longer viable in the long-term.

Earlier, AmCham senior adviser John Forbes said the new airport terminal in Clark should be built in the next two years, with a non-stop fast train connecting service similar to that in Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Tokyo to elevate traffic congestion.

Clark airport has 138 weekly international flights and 94 weekly domestic flights. These will be increased with the expansion of operations of domestic carriers, specifically Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific Air, Air Asia, Wakay Air and Seair Philippines.

Negotiations are ongoing for more international carriers to start operations at Clark airport by mid-2017.

 Businessman Ramon Ang has already submitted a proposal to build a new $10 billion airport in Bulacan while the the Tieng family, together with Henry Sy’s Belle Corp. likewise proposed to build a $50 billion airport off Sangley Point in Cavite.

Tugade said these unsolicited proposals are being reviewed. In the end, he said the government would decide which one is best for the country.

The Duterte administration has opened itself to unsolicited proposals, in stark contrast to the previous administration’s policy governing big-ticket infrastructure.

 It has so far received proposals for various projects – from roads to bridges and airports.

But while the government is studying the proposals for the new airports, Tugade said the priority is the P74.56 billion rehabilitation of the NAIA and the proposed expansion of the Clark airport.

NAIA has a 30 million annual passenger capacity but it handled 36.68 million passengers in 2015. Clark airport, meanwhile, has an annual capacity of four million passengers. – With Ding Cervantes