FILE PHOTO: Passengers queue at airline counters in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines, January 2, 2023. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez/File Photo

A 170.6 billion pesos (USD 3 billion) project to modernise the main international airport in the Philippines has attracted three potential bidders, including India’s GMR Group, the Philippine transportation secretary said on September 6.

Ranked among the world’s worst international gateways, the aging Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) badly needs an upgrade to end chronic flight delays, address congestion, and improve facilities.

The other two possible bidders were conglomerate San Miguel corporation and a Manila consortium, whose USD 4.9 billion unsolicited proposal for the project was rejected earlier, Secretary Jaime Bautista said.

India’s GMR group has been operating an airport on the Philippine tourism island of Cebu.

AirAsia Indonesia to more than double fleet in 3 years: Tony Fernandes

AirAsia Indonesia, a unit of Capital A, currently has around 28 planes in its fleet. Fernandes told reporters on the sideline of an ASEAN business forum in Jakarta that he plans to grow the fleet to 75 by 2026, bringing in more wide-body aircrafts. Fernandes said that the main goal of the company after the pandemic has been to quickly grow its fleet as travel returns to normal levels.

“We want somebody who has experience in operating an airport … and, of course, with a very good financial background. Those are two major requirements,” Bautista said in an interview on the sideline of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Indonesia. Bautista said the government would try to find overseas investors through two roadshows, in Singapore next week and in Paris in the third week of September, before opening bidding in the last week of December, and naming a winner in January.

The winning bidder must then operate and maintain the airport, the capacity of which would be doubled afer the upgrade to about 60 million passengers a year, Bautista said, adding the concession period being offered was 25 years.

Apart from NAIA, the Philippines is seeking financing to upgrade four other airports, on Busuanga island, Zamboanga city, Sanga-Sanga island and General Santos city. It will also build a new airport in Brooke’s Point town on Palawan island.

The secretary presented the five projects during a business matching event on September 6 on the sidelines of an ASEAN business summit. No deals had yet been agreed at this early stage, he said.

“This is more to give them information and we will need to do further communication with the audience,” he said.

Bhutan seeks to balance economy and environment with tourist tax

Bhutan halved the daily “Sustainable Development Fee” (SDF) – to $100 – last week as it strives to strike a balance between supporting the local economy and jobs, and protecting nature and the environment in the face of worsening climate change impacts. Under the country’s principle of “high-value, low-volume” tourism, the tax goes towards upgrading infrastructure, preserving natural and cultural treasures, and investing in electric transport to cut fossil fuel dependency.

Railway projects
The Philippines has set an internal deadline to renegotiate Chinese loans for three railway projects worth USD 4.9 billion, at the end of December, Bautista said, adding that in parallel, the government had been talking to other possible investors.

Last year, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr ordered the transport ministry to renegotiate the loan agreements that were considered “withdrawn” after the Chinese government “failed to act on the funding requests”.

“If there will be no funding, we will have to cancel the existing agreement with them and look for another source of funding,” Bautista said, adding there were several interested investors.

The three projects are: Subic-Clark Railway Project, the Philippine National Railways South Long-Haul Project and the Davao-Digos segment of the Mindanao Railway Project.

Bautista said inflation might have pushed their costs up to more than USD 4.9 billion and the National Economic and Development Authority may have to be approve them again.

  • Published On Sep 7, 2023 at 04:00 PM IST

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