MANILA – The country’s seven largest conglomerates would like to start expanding NAIA’s terminals and adding more flights as soon as possible, stressing that NAIA is a strategic national asset that needs upgrading without delay.
“The present approval process takes time, months to more than a year. The country would be well served if we can have a better NAIA soonest,” said Jimbo Reverente, spokesperson for the so-called super consortium that submitted last February 12 the first unsolicited proposal for NAIA’s upgrade.
Actual work will take 24 more months for the first wave of immediate expansion. Further expansions are planned to meet projected passenger demand moving forward.
“The government can expedite the approvals allowed under existing rules. That will be the best scenario. Once we complete our short-term expansion and upgrading plans, passenger convenience will be immediately felt. There will be more space for everybody and that is just the first step,” he said.
More expansion will follow to meet the expected growth in tourism, business and the economy. In 2017, the four NAIA terminals, designed to handle only 31 million, accommodated 42 million, he added.
“By 2019, the projection is we will have 47 million passengers. And the NAIA terminals will still have the same 31-million passenger capacity. So it is urgent for the country to get this project going because doing nothing as a result of a long approval process will set all of us back,” he said.
He added: “But if we can have our first wave completed by, say, 2020, tourism can become so much stronger that it can be a third economic pillar after the BPO and OFW remittances.”
And since tourism will be largely in the countryside, poverty will be addressed by the millions of jobs that could be created and “that alone could make a significant difference in the government’s efforts for peace in Mindanao.”
Reverente said, “there is so much riding on NAIA’s upgrade and this is one reason the seven conglomerates came together for this.”
And just to make sure the consortium delivers, it brought in Changi International Airport, reputedly the world’s best airport manager, as a technical partner. “So if you are awed by the efficiency of the Singapore airport under Changi, wait for us to show you that the Philippines can also step up,” he said.
The seven conglomerates are: Aboitiz InfraCapital, Inc, AC Infrastructure Holdings Corporation, Alliance Global Group, Inc., Asia’s Emerging Dragon Corporation, Filinvest Development Corporation, JG Summit Holdings, Inc., and Metro Pacific Investments Corporation.