San Miguel Corp. Gets Green Light for a New Airport in Manila

A new airport is vital for Manila as it was again recently highlighted at a conference by the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines which described “Philippines air transport as the worst in Southeast Asia”.

Just remember that name: Bulacan. It might some days become synonymous with Manila much hoped new international airport. A couple of days ago, Philippines National Economic and Development Authority’s Investment Coordination Council (NEDA-ICC) has approved the proposal of conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) to build a PHP700 billion (US$1.34 billion) airport in Bulacan. The area is north of Metro Manila, some 11 km away from the outskirt of town, along Manila Bay.

SMC Bulaca is indeed a massive infrastructure project. According to the company’s vision, it will not only comprise the airport itself but also an aerotropolis stretching on 2,500 hectares including 1,168 hectares for the airport alone.

The proposed airport project would have in the long term six parallel runways and a capacity for 100 million passenger, representing three times the capacity of Manila current Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

The airport would be develpped under a build-operate-transfer scheme, with SMC to operate the airport under a 50-year concession. As part of the proposal, SMC will build an expressway that would link its airport to the North Luzon Expressway in Marilao, Bulacan. SMC president Ramon Ang confirmed the approval of the company’s proposal but stressed that it was still at the “NEDA level.”

The new international airport being pitched by SMC is one of the nine projects approved by the NEDA-ICC with a combined cost of P900 billion. These projects are now waiting for Philippines President Duterte’s approval. According to the project timing, the first phase of Bulacan international airport should be completed by 2022, the year of the Presidential election. It would comprise two runways and capacity for 60 million passengers.
However, it is unlikely that such a massive project could be finished in such a short time frame but ambitions to achieve this goal are there! SMC Bulacan project was presented already back to 2015!

Among other big-ticket projects that were recently approved by the NEDA-ICC were the PHP57.6 billion Subic-Clark Railway and the construction of 10 more bridges across Pasig River in Metro Manila.

Meanwhile, the government also announced looking at closing NAIA and turn it into a new business district. A proposal that does not seem to bring unanimity among policians and investors as a multiple-airports system would be considered a benefit for the Philippines capital as it is the case for many large cities around the world.