Philippine airports to upgrade and modernise

Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) will finally undergo modernisation, upgrading and privatisation.

This looms as transportation secretary Jaime Bautista disclosed that the proposal of the Department of Transportation and Manila International Airport Authority – the latter currently managing NAIA – for a solicited bidding for the project has been approved by the National Economic Development Authority.

Ninoy Aquino International Airport will undergo modernisation and upgrading to improve its capacity

The project’s terms of reference is expected to be published next month, proposals accepted by end-October or early November, winning bidders awarded by year-end, and concession agreement which started a few months after, Bautista said on Tuesday at the discussion on infrastructure development and connectivity post-state of the Nation Address of the Philippine president.

NAIA’s modernisation and upgrading, roughly estimated to cost at least 141 billion pesos (US$2.6 billion), “will result in increased capacity… considering that it is already congested”, said Bautista, who was also president of Philippine Airlines for many years.

With a capacity for 32 million people a year, NAIA is now handling more than 40 million people a year. Today, it has around 140,000 people a day compared with 115,000 people a day a year ago.

“So that’s a big increase in the demand and in the number of passengers that pass through Manila,” he pointed out.

NAIA is so congested that a growing number of people from Manila choose modern and spacious Clark International Airport for domestic and international flights. To Clark airport, they either take shuttle buses with frequent departure from NAIA’s terminal 3 or from Trinoma in Quezon City – many also take the two-hour drive to Clark airport, parking their cars there.

Bautista said the Philippines has 90 airports, but only 45 are in commercial operations hence the need to upgrade a number of them including Bicol International Airport, regional airports in Palawan and Dipolog, and all other smaller airports.

The airport being built by San Miguel Corp in Bulacan is “very promising” to decongest NAIA, he said. Land development is almost 70 per cent complete and by 2024, the passenger terminal building and runway will begin construction.

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