Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Be Turned into a Business District?

Philippines, airports, air transport, Manila

The Rodrigo Duterte Government is mulling out to have a range of new airports to serve Manila as it plans to close in the medium term the current Ninoy Aquino International Airport which is reaching saturation.

Philippines Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade continues to push for a multi-airport strategy, saying this woudl be the best way to accommodate rising demand from passengers. The Secretary favours a new airport in Bulacan, in Sangley, Cavite and a redeveloped and much improved gateway in Clark, Pampanga.

At the same time, Tugade believes that the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) will no longer be viable in the long run and should instead be redeveloped into a central business district after 10 to 15 years. “As you improve and develop NAIA, you must also improve and develop all the other airports all over the country. You have to look at all other airports…that is Sangley and that is Bulacan,” Tugade said in an interview last week.

The future new airports would be totally private and they would even compete with each others like it is the case for example in London or Istanbul where all airports are run independantly from each other. Tugade highlighted what would be the future conditions of business for Manila new airports:  no sovereign guarantee and no subsidy in any form from the State while there will be no contractual commitment of a flying carrier with one airport.

The government would only act as a regulatory authority on tariff and rates, on quality and standards of the airport, and on security.

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Rendering of Sangley Airport in Cavite

Meanwhile, different groups are vying to develop and build new main gateways in Luzon.

A super consortium of seven conglomerates wants to redevelop NAIA and has already agreed to a shorter concession period of up to 15 years. According to its plan, the consortium will spend P102 billion in the first five years of operations, a budget that does not include the cost of a third runway.

San Miguel Corp., meanwhile, announced two years ago to look at developing a greenfield airport in Bulacan. The company already obtained an original proponent status for its unsolicited proposal.

Two groups are also hoping to build an airport in Sangley Point off Cavite. One group is led by the local government of Cavite, while another is the Tieng family in tandem with Belle Corp.

Finally, Clark airport is speeding its development with a new terminal for eight million passengers. Crucial for the success of Clark will be a direct express train link to Manila as it currently takes at least two hours and a half to reach the airport by road!