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Big firms team up for NAIA rehab

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Plans are under way to both improve Ninoy Aquino International Airport and to find an alternative gateway nearby.

SEVEN MAJOR COMPANIES, including some of the country’s biggest conglomerates, have formed a consortium to rehabilitate, operate and maintain Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), those listed among them said in separate disclosures on Thursday.

The companies concerned — Aboitiz Equity Ventures’ (AEV) Aboitiz InfraCapital, Inc.; Ayala Corp.’s AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp.; Filinvest Development Corp. (FDC); JG Summit Holdings, Inc.; Alliance Global Group, Inc.; Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) and Asia’s Emerging Dragon Corp. — have formed a consortium that will submit an unsolicited proposal to the Department of Transportation “for rehabilitation, operation and maintenance of NAIA,” they said in a joint statement.

“The terms of the memorandum of understanding or framework of the consortium are still under negotiation,” the statement read, adding that the group “will work with foreign technical partners with world-class track records in airport operations” on the project.

“Augmenting NAIA’s capacity,” the companies said, “is the quickest way to address airport congestion while other airports are being developed outside Metro Manila.”

NAIA accommodated over 39.5 million passengers in 2016, way more than its 30.5 million designed capacity.

“The consortium believes that NAIA will continue to be a strategic gateway and a key hub of airline operations for the Philippines. With proper upgrades and strategic improvements, NAIA can easily accommodate an additional 11 million passengers annually from the current 39.5M passengers, and can increase its hourly aircraft movements from 40 movements per hour to 48 movements per hour,” the companies said in their statement.

The development complements other initiatives to develop alternative gateways to decongest NAIA.

San Miguel Corp., for instance, has submitted an unsolicited proposal for the construction, operation and maintenance of a P700-billion airport in Bulacan with designed capacity of 200 million passengers per year and equipped with four runways.

Moreover, the consortium of listed builder Megawide Construction Corp. and Bangalore-based airport operator GMR Infrastructure Ltd. has been awarded the contract to build a new terminal building at Clark International Airport that will build for P9.36 billion by 2019 a 82,600-square-meter terminal building designed to handle eight million passengers a year, nearly double the current 4.2 million capacity.

Sought for comment, MPIC Chief Financial Officer David J. Nicol said the proposal involves the entire NAIA system.

“There is no figure at this point. It will take a little while to finalize,” Mr. Nicol said when asked for project cost.

An e-mail from AC Infrastructure’s corporate communications office said the group was “in the middle of assessing the needs and scope for the project”, hence was unable to elaborate.

Harry G. Liu, president of Summit Securities, Inc., said that the proposal showed that the companies were betting big on the economy. “You can see seven big companies joining together. If they work together to rehabilitate NAIA, it means they see that there is economic growth in the country. They will not join together and try to construct if they don’t see any benefit from the airport,” Mr. Liu said in a phone interview.

Thursday saw stock prices of listed firms concerned end mixed.

Those of AEV, JG Summit and MPIC rose 3.05% to P71 apiece, 0.69% to P72.50 and by 0.60% to P6.75 each, respectively.

Stock prices of Ayala and Alliance Global, in contrast, retreated by 0.88% to P1,009 and by 0.38% to P15.88 apiece respectively, while that of FDC was flat at P7.80 each.

MPIC is one of the three key Philippine units of Hong Kong based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT, Inc. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Patrizia Paola C. Marcelo

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