AN AIRPORT in Sangley Point, Cavite would have a proximity advantage over Bulacan should the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) be permanently closed, but the government will have to deal with reclamation issues, a transportation official said.

Department of Transportation (DoTr) Undersecretary for Aviation Manuel Antonio F. Tamayo said that Sangley and Bulacan, which are proposed as sites for a new gateway to replace the congested NAIA, are feasible and while Sangley is much closer to Metro Manila, major reclamation of Manila Bay will be needed.

NAIA, which has a capacity of 30 million passengers annually, already serves around 42 million.

“In terms of proximity, assuming that the intention is close down the existing NAIA, Sangley is definitely at an advantage because of its distance but it is going to be more expensive because you would have to reclaim,” Mr. Tamayo told reporters on the sidelines of the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the DoTr and housing agencies.

“It is just that Bulacan is way ahead in terms of the submissions. They have now the original proponent status. It is now pending with NEDA. So they are ahead.”

San Miguel Corp. (SMC) in October obtained original-proponent status for its unsolicited proposal to build a P700-billion international airport in Bulacan. The proposed project will rise over 2,500-hectares.

Construction of the new airport is expected to be completed in six years after approval by the government.

The DoTr has forwarded the proposal to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board for evaluation and final approval. Once approved, it will undergo a Swiss challenge.

The agency likewise previously said it is open to a proposal for developing Sangley Point, currently a naval and air base.

All-Asia Resources Reclamation Corp. (ARRC) plans to build an international airport, seaport, and mixed-use development on reclaimed land off the coast of Sangley Point.

With various proposals pending, the government still has to decide what to do with NAIA.

The government is also preparing Clark International Airport (CIA) as an alternative gateway. The bidding process is ongoing for the upgrade and construction of a new terminal, and bidding for the operations and maintenance will also commence soon. Simultaneously, the government is also evaluating the proposal of Filinvest Development Corp. (FDC) and JG Summit Holdings, Inc. (JGS) consortium for the long-term development of CIA.

International Air Transport Association (IATA) director-general Alexandre de Juniac has said that Clark is “too far” to be an alternative gateway to NAIA. He said that ideally, an alternative airport should be at most 60 kilometers away from the main city or metropolis. Clark is nearly 100 kilometers from Manila. — Patrizia Paola C. Marcelo