Lower project cost, shorter concession period offered for airport rehab
Listed construction company Megawide is challenging a consortium formed by seven of the country’s biggest conglomerates for the right to rehabilitate and operate Metro Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
Megawide, which already runs the Mactan-Cebu International Airport and last year bagged the Clark International Airport expansion project, said it had submitted a $3-billion unsolicited proposal to overhaul NAIA, which until recently was listed as among the worst airports in the world.
The offer, equivalent to approximately P156 billion, is much lower than the P350-billion proposal submitted last month by the NAIA Consortium composed of Aboitiz InfraCapital, Inc., AC Infrastructure Holdings Corporation, Alliance Global Group, Inc., Asia’s Emerging Dragon Corp., Filinvest Development Corporation, JG Summit Holdings, Inc., and Metro Pacific Investments Corp.
Megawide, which has again tied up with Bangalore-Based GMR Infrastructure Limited — its partner for the Cebu and Clark ventures, also offered a shorter 18-year concession period compared to the 35 years proposed by the NAIA Consortium.
“It is vital to immediately decongest NAIA and maximize its potential in order to sustainably support the air traffic needs of the greater capital region,” GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC) President Louie Ferrer said in a statement.
“NAIA’s most critical constraint is the limited airfield capacity, which limits its capability to accommodate more flights. It also has a reduced ability to control delays related to aircraft movement, thereby worsening terminal congestion,” Ferrer added.
Andrew Harrison, GMCAC’s chief executive advisor, said GMR-Megawide’s “detailed masterplan takes into account all possible constraints in transforming a fully operational brownfield airport. It aims to maintain the high service levels expected of a world-class airport for the next 18 years.”
The proposal includes the construction of parallel taxiways for both of NAIA’s runways, additional rapid-exit taxiways for the primary runway, the extension of the secondary runway and the provision of the maximum number of aircraft stands.
This is expected to increase the airfield capacity to 950-1,000 aircraft movements per day, up from the current 730, and also increase peak hour handling capacity to 60 from 40.
GMR-Megawide will also rehabilitate and expand existing terminals within 24 months from taking over NAIA’s operations, forecasting “roughly double the space” and over 700,000 square meters of terminal area.
“At this stage of the proposal, our focus is to further improve passenger experience,” Harrison said.
Upon completion, NAIA’s terminals will be able to handle a total of 72 million passengers annually from the current 40 million, GMR-Megawide said.
Building a third runway was considered but “operational challenges associated with having an additional runway make this solution unviable,” it said.
Among others, a new “dependent” runway would only increase capacity by a marginal amount, would have to be built on land that will have to be reclaimed from Manila Bay — necessitating “a complex network of taxiways” or a new terminal that will require an undeground train — and approach/departure procedures would also be affected.
“It is our belief that the key to unlocking NAIA’s full potential is to optimize the efficiency of the existing airside infrastructure, which will add up to 50 percent more movements for NAIA,” Harrison said.
GMR-Megawide said it had engaged the services of US firm Mitre Corp. as a technical partner, touting the not-for-profit organization as the “world’s foremost expert in maximizing aircraft handling capabilities.”
Representatives of the NAIA Consortium, which has teamed up with Singapore’s Changi Airports for technical support, were not immediately available for comment, as were officials from the Department of Transportation.
Transportation officials have said that they were looking to award original proponent status for the NAIA project, which would be followed by a Swiss challenge.