New $14 billion Manila airport proposal gets green light

Philippine Airlines Airbus A350 artist impression

The Philippine government on Thursday approved a $14 billion international airport proposal from the country’s largest firm by revenue, San Miguel Corporation, aimed at easing severe congestion at the country’s main gateway airport – Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila.

The National Economic and Development Authority’s board approved San Miguel’s PHP 735.6 billion ($14 billion), unsolicited proposal, subject to a final review, to build an airport in Bulacan province, near Manila.

Its unclear what would become of NAIA should the proposed airport ultimately be built, but the current government has put forth a three-airport strategy for Manila that would likely include a revamped NAIA, Clark and presumably the new San Miguel airport.

As to what impact this would have on cargo is unclear, but likely would not be advantageous given the geographic spread of the airports and the persistent road gridlock.
San Miguel’s proposal to build an ‘aerotropolis’ on 1,168 hectares of land will be subject to a ‘Swiss Challenge’ under government rules which means other groups will be invited to make competing offers, with the original bidder given the right to match any better proposal.

The airport would be completed in five years and fully funded by San Miguel, the country’s largest brewery, through a BOT (build, operate and transfer) model under a 50-year concession with the government.

The proposal features four runways accommodating up to 250 movements per hour, compared to NAIA which has two intersecting runways limiting movements to only 40 per hour. With a capacity of 30 million passengers per year, NAIA now struggles to handle over 42 million.

San Miguel’s proposal is one of handful with no less than seven bids to redevelop NAIA, while the All-Asia Resources and Reclamation Corp, a consortium of retail tycoon Henry Sy (SM Group) and Wilson Tieng (Solar Group) submitting an unsolicited proposal to build a new airport south of Manila in Sangley Point, Cavite.

The Sangley site has been identified by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) as the best site for a new international airport, in part because it is only 20 minutes away from Metro Manila.