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Business group backs SMC’s Bulacan airport plan

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THE International Chamber of Commerce-Philippines (ICCP) expressed its support for San Miguel Corp.’s (SMC) proposed Bulacan International Airport — also called the New Manila International Airport — after the fiasco at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) over the weekend.

In a statement on Wednesday, ICCP Chairman Francis C. Chua said the closure of NAIA’s main runway caused by the crash landing of a Xiamen Airlines jet proved the “inherent problems of the NAIA, and why it’s no longer sustainable as our country’s main gateway.”

“With just two intersecting runways and virtually no space for additional runways, it cannot serve the needs of our growing economy and population, much less be a catalyst for economic growth,” Mr. Chua said, referring to NAIA.

“Government should now put all its efforts to pave the way for, a new international gateway outside of Metro Manila, which will serve as a long-term, future-proof solution to airport congestion problems that have held our country back for so long,” he added.

Mr. Chua said the ICCP believes SMC’s New Manila International Airport proposal is the “best” for the Philippines.

“At no cost to the government, and with no subsidies or guarantees required, San Miguel will build a futuristic ‘aerotropolis’ with up to four parallel runways — which can be expanded further to six. With capacity for 60 aircraft movements per runway per hour, this will eliminate all congestion issues and significantly raise our attractiveness as tourism and investment destination in the region,” he added.

The ICCP is the Philippine chapter of a Paris-based organization of companies from more than 130 countries all over the world.

SMC’s P735-billion airport proposal has already been conditionally approved in April by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board chaired by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Questions were raised on the project’s financial and technical viability, hence the need for another round of approval from the NEDA. But SMC said it is capable of implementing the project without a financing partner.

The NEDA said in June the concession terms for the project is already being prepared, after which it will again be reviewed by the Board and an inter-agency committee.

Once the project is given the final go-signal from NEDA, it will then be subjected to a Swiss challenge, where other parties are allowed to submit counterproposals that SMC may match.

SMC’s proposal covers the construction, operation, and maintenance of a 2,500-hectare airport and an 8.4-kilometer airport toll road in Bulacan. The diversified conglomerate said the airport could handle 100 million passengers a year, far more than NAIA’s capacity of 30.5 million passengers a year.

Source: Business World

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