NEDA Board greenlights NAIA upgrade project

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 19) — A multibillion-peso project to rehabilitate the aging and congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) has been approved, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said on Wednesday.

"Among the approved projects is the solicited proposal to rehabilitate, operate, expand and transfer the Ninoy Aquino International Airport PPP (public-private partnership) project, also known as the solicited NAIA PPP project," NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said at a briefing.

A solicited proposal is a project based on a specific request from the proponent, in this case the government.

Balisacan said the NEDA Board, chaired by the president, approved the project during its meeting Wednesday.

He said the project cost is ₱170.6 billion to be undertaken by the Department of Transportation and the Manila International Airport Authority.

"The goal of the project is to address longstanding issues at NAIA, such as the inadequate capacity of passenger terminal buildings and restricted aircraft movement," Balisacan said.

"It aims to increase the current annual airport capacity from 35 million to at least 62 million passengers. The NAIA PPP project also aims to increase air traffic movement from 40 to 48 per hour," he added.

Balisacan said the govenrment will announce the winning bidder for the NAIA PPP project within a year, adding that the project can begin as early as next year and that it would cover all terminals and facilities. There was no information whether bids have been submitted.

When asked if the NAIA PPP could be an investment project for the Maharlika Investment Fund, Balisacan said any of the agency's 194 projects could be considered.

"Obviously the board and the management of the organization will have to decide," he said.

Balisacan added the projects approved are PPP in nature, and will involve private sector funds.

"Of course, the Maharlika can also invest in that but if the private sector is, kaya na [can handle it], why put your money there?" he said.

Balisacan said the project will improve NAIA which is facing congestion and numerous breakdown in operations including power supply issues.

"The whole idea of rehabilitating the terminal is to make our airport also global standard. What you experience in many other airports should be the same experience you get in NAIA once rehabilitation and maintenance has been completed," he said.

"We are in a hurry to address the issues in the terminal because as you have noted tourism is one of the main drivers of the Philippine economy in the coming years and we want to ensure that tourists who come here have a good experience," he added.

While its unsolicited proposal has been set aside, the Manila International Airport Consortium (MIAC) said it is "one" with the government in efforts to revitalize NAIA.

"Regardless of the route, we firmly believe that NAIA's modernization requires a long-term and comprehensive solution delivered by a credible and capable party at the quickest possible time. These criteria - regardless of the approach - would best benefit NAIA and the Filipino people," MIAC said.

Publicus Asia's PAHAYAG 2023 second quarter survey released on Wednesday revealed the privatization of NAIA had the lowest approval rating among those polled -- pulling in 32%

Meanwhile, the NEDA Board also approved the unsolicited proposal for the upgrade, expansion, operation and maintenance of the Laguindingan International Airport in Misamis Oriental, a ₱12.75-billion PPP project that aims to integrate concepts of green and connected airports into its design and operation, and use digital technologies to enhance passenger experience.