DOTr: Plan is for private sector to operate, not own NAIA

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 24) — Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista clarified on Tuesday that the government's plan to privatize the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) would only involve its operations not its assets.

"Ang ibig sabihin ng presidente, hindi naman natin ibibigay sa private sector ‘yung assets ng NAIA. Ang ibig niyang sabihin, it’s the private sector who will manage the operations," he said during a Palace briefing.

[Translation: The president didn’t mean we will sell the NAIA assets to the private sector. What he meant was that the private sector will manage the operations.]

The transportation chief said this could be done through a concession agreement.

Bautista noted that the Philippine government has already been doing this in Cebu and Clark.

"Cebu is operated by GMR-Megawide although ‘yung asset naman ay asset talaga ng gobyerno kaya hindi naman na-privatize ‘yung infrastructure. This is also the same with the operations of the Clark International Airport, yung asset remained with the government but ‘yung operations ay ginagawa ng private sector," he said.

[Translation: Cebu is operated by GMR-Megawide although the asset is actually a government asset so the infrastructure has not been privatized. This is also the same with the operations of the Clark International Airport, where the asset remains with the government but the operations are managed by the private sector.]

Asked if air travelers would have to pay for higher fares or services once NAIA is privatized, Bautista said it was "not automatic" since the regulatory function will remain with the government.

Last month, Bautista said the government was already working on provisions in the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the public–private partnership to make it "investor friendly."

He also said the best privatization practices of other countries would be adopted.