Latest pitch for NAIA rehab still not good enough, gov't says

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 5) — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is still not satisfied with the revised proposal from a consortium of big business groups to repair and upgrade the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

In a statement, the DOTr said it has returned the newest pitch of the NAIA Consortium as it was still not at par with what the government envisions for the rehabilitation of the country's biggest airport.

The NAIA Consortium — composed of Aboitiz InfraCapital, Inc.; AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp.; Alliance Global Group, Inc.; Asia’s Emerging Dragon Corp.; Filinvest Development Corp.; JG Summit Holdings, Inc.; and Metro Pacific Investments Corp. — submitted a revised proposal to the DOTr last April 26, which carried substantial adjustments from their original pitch for airport repairs. Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said on May 1 that the new proposal was "acceptable," but now seems to have a change of mind.

"DOTr did not reject. They (NAIA Consortium) were asked to revise concession agreement similar to Clark O&M (operation and maintenance contract)," the DOTr said in a statement sent to CNN Philippines.

The DOTr chief has said that they are shaping the NAIA rehabilitation plan after the Clark International Airport, as the two gateways need to maintain daily operations while repair works are underway. Clark has become the face of the Duterte administration's infrastructure push, and is being branded as the main alternative to NAIA.

The agency added that the consortium has a maximum of 60 days to file a new and compliant offer, or else they could lose the business entirely.

"If they don't agree, DOTr or MIAA (Manila International Airport Authority) will entertain other proposals that comply with the Clark O&M," the DOTr added.

Tugade previously threatened to cancel the project as the group seemed to be taking too long with their final pitch to repair the country's premier gateway. He then gave them until April 30 to file a new pitch, but to no avail.

READ: Duterte warns of military 'takeover' of NAIA

The consortium submitted an unsolicited proposal to take on the NAIA repairs in February 2018, with the original contract price set at ₱350 billion for a 35-year concession period. The group has since scaled it down to ₱102 billion for a 15-year deal.

The big firms also tapped Changi Airport International, the operator of Singapore's airport, for technical support.

There's still a long way ahead before the NAIA rehabilitation can be rolled out. Once accepted, the new proposal needs to go through the National Economic and Development Authority-Investment Coordination Committee and then to the NEDA Board chaired by President Rodrigo Duterte. It also needs to undergo a Swiss challenge, or where other firms can submit more competitive counter-proposals. If there are none, only then can the NAIA Consortium bag the airport repair contract.

NAIA has grown congested without any alternative gateways to the country. Last month, Duterte ordered the DOTr to have the Sangley airport in Cavite usable for general aviation by November in a bid to ease air traffic in Manila.