The Philippines' biggest conglomerates keen to upgrade Ninoy Aquino airport

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The Philippines' biggest conglomerates keen to upgrade Ninoy Aquino airport

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Seven of the Philippines’ biggest conglomerates are planning to team up to submit an unsolicited proposal for the development of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), which has been dubbed in the past as the world’s worst airport. NAIA, which traces its history to as early as 1948, was built to handle 30 million passengers but is currently handling nearly 40 million passengers.

Experts have noted the need to enhance the runway and terminal capacities at NAIA to provide much needed additional capacity until a new airport is ready. The private partner will improve, upgrade and enhance the operational efficiencies of all existing terminals of the NAIA covering both landside and airside (except air traffic services), to meet the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards and develop the main gateway airport of the Philippines.

The consortium is comprised of the Ayala Corporation, Gotianun-led Filinvest Development Corporation (FDC), Gokongwei-led JG Summit Holdings Incorporated, Aboitiz Equity Ventures Incorporated, Manuel Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC), Megaworld Corporation, a subsidiary of Andrew Tan's Alliance Global Group, and the LT Group. A member of the consortium has confirmed the plan but declined to provide specific details or a timetable.

The joint participation is meant to convince the government to finally commission the redevelopment of NAIA. The team is looking to join forces to create a formidable collaboration instead of submitting separate proposals. In July this year, the LT group, through Philippine Airlines, unveiled a P20 billion (US$395.32 million) plan to expand NAIA terminal 2. It has not been commissioned.

Furthermore, the conglomerates previously expressed their interest to bid for the P74.6 billion (US$1.47 million) upgrade and privatisation of NAIA. However the project was put on hold in February this year, following concern expressed by the All-Asia Resources and Reclamation Corporation (ARRC), a consortium comprising Belle Corporation and Solar Group, that the privatisation of NAIA would discourage the development of Clark International Airport (CIA).

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) had said NAIA has no expansion space to cope with current and future growth and thus the development of a second international airport is crucial.

As reported on this platform, the development of CIA is now well underway. Following seven bids being received for a design, engineering, and construction contract for a new terminal last week, the contract is due to be awarded on 15 December and the new terminal break ground before the end of the month.

Thus, with the former hurdle of CIA advancing steadily, the likelihood of progression regarding this proposal is significantly higher than the conglomerates' past attempts. 

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