Philippines rejects private sector’s 267 billion pesos offer to upgrade ageing airport

A PHILIPPINE inter-agency panel chaired by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr on Wednesday (Jul 19) rejected a 267 billion pesos (S$6.5 billion) unsolicited offer from a local consortium to operate and upgrade the country’s ageing main international airport.

The panel said it preferred to invite bids for the airport modernisation project, which based on the government’s estimate would cost 170.6 billion pesos, and the consortium of six of the Philippines’ largest conglomerates was welcome to join.

Ranked among the world’s worst international gateways, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport badly needs an upgrade to end chronic flight delays, address congestion, and improve facilities. Previous attempts to modernise the airport have failed due to disputes between authorities and contractors.

The government-approved project aims to boost annual airport capacity to at least 62 million passengers from the current 35 million, and increase air traffic movement to 48 aircraft per hour from 40, almost similar to the consortium’s goal of upgrading the facility.

There was no immediate comment from the consortium when asked if it was open to participating in the bidding, but said in a statement the airport’s modernisation required a long-term and comprehensive solution.

In January and May, power outages at the airport disrupted over 300 flights affecting more than 65,000 passengers. REUTERS