Privatizing the operations of the NAIA anticipates the potential growth of tourism, which is a major driver of the country’s economy, said Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion. This follows confirmation that the government is planning to privatize the operations of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
“I am glad that [Department of Transportation] Sec. Bautista supports the privatization of NAIA,” said Concepcion. “Our airports create the first impression of our country, and since tourism has one of the biggest potential for growing our economy, any improvement made here will redound to so many benefits,” said Concepcion.
Department of Transportation (DOTr) Sec. Jaime Bautista earlier confirmed that the government is planning to privatize the operations of the NAIA. He explained that the NAIA has already exceeded its rated capacity and that it needs to be improved and modernized.
Concepcion said that the lockdown created financial problems for MSMEs in the tourism sector, and that efforts must now be focused on helping the sector. “In my meeting with [Department of Tourism] Sec. Frasco, we discussed how we can help our MSMEs prepare for the tourism boom. We still have, by far, the best beaches and one of the most welcoming people in the world,” he said.
He said that the biggest assist for the sector can come from making it easy for people who fly in and out of the NAIA. “The airport experience must be improved, not just for the tourists but also for the OFWs who have only a few days to spend with their families here,” he said. “An efficient airport will also ensure they will be able to make it back in time to their employers and keep their jobs,” he said.
It will be recalled that Concepcion revived a 2018 proposal forming a consortium to modernize the NAIA following the New Year’s Day glitch that paralyzed operations over Philippine airspace. Concepcion, who organized the consortium, said the proposal was to undertake various developments in three phases from 2021 to 2024, aimed at decongesting and increasing capacity for the airport. The consortium comprised some of the country’s biggest conglomerates, namely Aboitiz InfraCapital Inc., AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp., Alliance Global Group Inc., Asia’s Emerging Dragon Corp., Filinvest Development Corp., JG Summit Holdings Inc. and Metro Pacific Investments Corp.
The consortium’s unsolicited proposal was recommended for approval by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to the Manila International Airport Authority, the primary government agency for the project. The consortium was able to secure an original proponent status, and the proposal was approved by the NEDA board in November 2019.
However, in March 2020, then-DOTr Sec. Art Tugade said he will cancel the unsolicited proposal and offer it to parties that are ready to accept the government’s terms and conditions if a deal is not finalized. In July 2020, the consortium withdrew the proposal due to unresolved issues with the government.
Concepcion said the private sector, even those who were not part of the formal consortium, are supportive of the privatization of the NAIA.
“Having seen how badly key systems in our air transportation system need to be modernized, and how severely any glitch can affect the whole country, I hope that this time, we can revive this proposal and see it through,” he said.