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Following the January 1 glitch that halted all air travel within Philippine airspace last January 1, Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion is suggesting the revival of a 2018 proposal forming a consortium to modernize the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). The rehabilitation project was to undertake various developments in three phases from 2021 to 2024 that will decongest and increase capacity for the airport.
“NAIA is strategically located and any improvements made here will redound to so many benefits to the country,” said Concepcion. Similarly, he said, any inefficiencies in the NAIA translate to big losses in business down the line and are felt throughout the country. “I believed then, as I do now, that the private sector can contribute so much if allowed to participate,” he said.
Under the consortium’s proposal, it promised that NAIA will have a 20 percent increase in efficiency, pushing it to become a world-class gateway on a par with the world’s best airports. In addition, there were no government guarantees, and nomoratorium on the construction of another major airport.
It will be recalled that in 2018, 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. ByAugust that year, the consortium secured from the Philippine government an original proponent status for its plan to rehabilitate the NAIA; it was approved by the NEDA board in November 2019.
However, in March 2020, then-DOTr Secretary 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.
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.
Concepcion, who was responsible for forming the consortium,recalls that the idea for the consortium was first put forward a year before, in 2017, when the country was preparing for the ASEAN Summit.
“All of the conglomerates were interested in seeing the project push through,” said Concepcion, adding that it would have been good for their respective businesses, such as in air travel, real estate or retail. “We were all in agreement that connectivity is important, and even the tycoons who were not formally part of the group pitched in to see how they can help,” he said.
“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.”