SMC’s Ang to present $10-B airport project proposal

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RAMON Ang, president of diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC), will meet with President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Wednesday to present his proposal to build a new $10-billion airport to address growing international air traffic in the country.

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Last month, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said the Philippines needs a new international airport in spite of the ongoing upgrade of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Ang told The Manila Times in an interview he will meet with the president on May 14, but did not give further details.

In 2012, SMC showed an interest in building a new airport to replace the old and congested NAIA terminal building.

The conglomerate has announced plans of building a new airport complex, with four runways and a large passenger terminal building on an 800-hectare piece of land near Manila.

The DOTC, meanwhile, said the government was being assisted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in its plan to establish a new airport.

“I think JICA is formalizing its study,” DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said, adding the department will also cover alternative locations outside Metro Manila.

“They [JICA officials] have mentioned the Sangley Point [in Cavite]. We need to press ahead,” he said.

The DOTC earlier cited Sangley Point as a possible option for the location of a new international airport.

Abaya said earlier JICA recognizes the merits of Sangley Point as it is only 20 minutes away by land transport to and from Metro Manila. Another option is a reclaimed piece of land along Laguna de Bay, he said.

He added that it is impossible to look for a 2,000-hectare plot of land in Metro Manila which can host a new international airport.

Operations at the NAIA were disrupted considerably in the summer of 2012 due to excessive traffic congestion around the airport. In response, the government ordered a reduction in the volume of traffic around the country’s premier airport as a stop-gap measure.

The administration of President Benigno Aquino has also pursued—with limited success—a policy of shifting traffic away from Manila and toward other growth centers, such as Clark in Pampanga, north of Manila.

Tony Tyler, director general and chief executive officer of the International Airport Transport Association, said recently that the Philippines is missing out on great economic opportunities that could otherwise be facilitated by air transport.

He added that the country also has a bad reputation for safety, inadequate airport capacity and high taxation.

In 2012, NAIA became the 34th busiest airport in the world as passenger volume increased by about 8 percent to 32.1 million passengers.

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