A transportation expert from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) cautioned that building an airport express rail (AER) connecting the Ninoy
Aquino International Airport (NAIA) with the Clark International Airport (CIA) is not feasible given the steep cost the project would entail.
“I did not suggest [constructing]a bullet train [or AER]. It’s very expensive. It will cost about $6 billion to $7 billion,” JICA project manager Shizuo Iwata said.
He said that constructing a road that would link NAIA and CIA would possibly be more cost-efficient than the AER.
“It’s ok to have a road alignment that would link NAIA and Clark International Airport but it should not be costly. The demand for a mass transportation is more important for commuting people rather than the people who will just go to the airport,” Iwata said.
The transportation expert, moreover, suggested building a new airport closer to the existing NAIA.
He added that building a new airport is a good opportunity for the private sector under the auspices of the government’s Public Private Partnership thrust. Iwata noted that the government would not be burdened by the high costs of construction.
The National Economic and Development Authority earlier commissioned JICA to conduct a feasibility study of the Department of Transportation and Communications’ (DOTC) proposal to construct the AER.
The DOTC, meanwhile, is intent on setting up the CIA as an alternative international gateway to Metro Manila, citing rising demands amid the ongoing rehabilitation of the old NAIA terminal.
JICA has been working with government agencies in plotting the establishment of a new airport.
DOTC Secretary Emilio Abaya earlier said that JICA has suggested constructing the new airport at Sangley Point in Cavite, which, according to the secretary, is only 20 minutes by land transport to and from Metro Manila.
Abaya also revealed that another option for the location of the new airport is a reclaimed piece of land along Laguna de Bay.
He maintained that finding a 2,000-hectare plot of land in Metro Manila that could host a new international airport is impossible.
San Miguel Corp. (SMC), meanwhile, has expressed interest in building the new airport.
The conglomerate earlier revealed proposals for building a new airport complex, comprised of four runways and a large passenger terminal building on an 800-hectare piece of land near Metro Manila. The project will cost $10 billion. Abaya, however, said that the government has yet to receive such project proposal from SMC.
“I just read about this in the media. I haven’t received any formal or informal proposal from them,” he said, adding that government policy tends to lean towards encouraging private sector development proposals.
Operations at the NAIA were considerably disrupted, including cancellation of flights, in the summer of 2012 due to traffic congestion around the airport. The government ordered a reduction in the volume of traffic around the country’s premier airport as a stopgap measure.
The Aquino administration has also pursued a policy of shifting traffic away from Manila and towards other growth centers, like Clark in Pampanga.