Philippines eyes more airport projects; Ninoy Aquino Int’l Airport to undergo major upgrade

Inter-island connectivity will only be achieved with the establishment of more airports as it will guarantee improved accessibility and efficient mobility throughout the country, said Philippine Secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) Jaime Bautista during the 2023 Aviation Summit, which was held on 27-28 September in Pasay City, the Philippines.

“Transforming our airports – through expansion, upgrade and rehabilitation – is not only at the core of this administration’s thrust on infrastructure development but also crucial to connecting the country to the rest of the world,” stressed Mr Bautista. He added that these airports must also adapt to technological innovation without sacrificing safety of passengers.

Among DOTr’s aviation projects are the New Manila International Airport, Sangley Point Airport in Cavite, and several developments at the Clark International Airport, Bicol International Airport and Mactan-Cebu International Airport.

Mr Bautista also highlighted the improvements at the Bohol-Panglao International Airport, Zamboanga International Airport, General Santos International Airport, Virac Airport, Puerto Princesa Airport, Ormoc and Calbayog Airports, Dumaguete and Catarman Airports, as well as Butuan and Camiguin Airports.

In addition, he provided an update on the modernisation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) following the airport’s pre-bid conference with prospective concessionaires on 22 September. Once NAIA’s privatisation is complete under a public-private partnership (PPP) scheme, the airport will significantly increase its passenger capacity and traffic movements.

NAIA modernisation project

In its earlier announcements, DOTr unveiled the plans to modernise NAIA under a PPP scheme. Upon completion, the airport’s runway capacity will increase to at least 48 air traffic movements at peak hourly rate, and its annual passenger capacity will double to 62 million.

Under the 15-year NAIA PPP concession agreement, the concessionaire is expected to rehabilitate the airport’s passenger terminals and airside facilities; develop commercial assets and utility systems; provide surface access facilities that enables intermodal transfer at the airport, inter-terminal passenger transfer facilities and services; connection from the Metro Manila Subway station to NAIA T3; overall upliftment and beautification of the airport; and incorporate climate change and climate adaptation measures for airfield resilience and overall sustainability of the airport.

The concessionaire is also expected to improve and modernise the communications, navigation & surveillance (CNS) systems, remote digital tower system, ATC system upgrade, and airfield network, including fibre upgrades, emergency equipment as well as technology enhancements to improve efficiency. 

A pre-bid conference for the NAIA modernisation project took place on 22 September, with deadline for bid submission by 27 December 2023. According to DOTr, at least six companies have showed interest and bought the bid documents. These include GMR, San Miguel, Manila International Airport Consortium, SPARC 888, Asian Airport Consortium, and IGA of Turkey. The winning bidder is scheduled to be announced in the first quarter of 2024.

“The rehabilitation and operation of NAIA through a PPP arrangement represent a landmark opportunity for our nation,” said Mr Bautista. “It promises economic growth, improved infrastructure and a world-class travel experience.”

To optimise the airport’s potential, a modernised airport is necessary to enhance its facilities, which adheres to international standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), explained Mr Bautista.

“This [adherence to ICAO standards] requires modernising terminals, increasing capacity up to 62 million passengers annually, improving technology infrastructure and ensuring reliable operations.”

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