THE GOVERNMENT will take no action to ensure that airlines will operate out of the proposed Bulacan International Airport, signalling that the project needs to convince carriers to transfer to the new facility on its own commercial merits.
The government, through the Department of Transportation, is currently negotiating the concession contract with the project’s original proponent, San Miguel Corp. (SMC).
Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said that in keeping with policy, there will be no government guarantees in airport projects.
“Our condition is very clear that there will be no commitment on the part of the government to transfer flights from Clark or NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) to Bulacan. They have to compete to make the airport better, more attractive so that airline companies will voluntarily relocate to Bulacan,” Mr. Diokno said in a briefing on Wednesday.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board approved SMC’s unsolicited proposal for a P735-billion airport in Bulacan in April. However it is still subject for another round of evaluation for questions on its financial viability, after the concession terms have been formed.
The project involves the construction, operation, and maintenance of a 2,500-hectare airport in Bulakan, Bulacan, that includes an 8.4-kilometer airport toll road. The airport’s capacity is estimated at 100 million passengers a year.
Since the project is an unsolicited proposal, it needs to undergo a Swiss challenge under which other parties can make counter-offers which the original proponent has the right to match.
Mr. Diokno said that the government is currently fast-tracking the construction and rehabilitation of 28 airport projects in total.
“In line with the administration’s ambitious ‘Build, Build, Build’ program, 28 airport projects for construction,rehabilitation,upgrade are listed in the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) priority agenda. Of the 28, three international airport projects — Lal-Lo, Puerto Princesa, and Mactan-Cebu — and four domestic airport projects — Tuguegarao, Calbayog, Ozamis, and Naga — have already been finished,” he said.
He noted that the Clark International Airport expansion project is expected to be completed in June 2020.
“These projects are projected to upgrade the country’s aviation industry, and will ensure greater regional accessibility. In the long run, this will propel sustained economic growth through the improved and more convenient movement of people and products, and generate quality jobs for Filipinos,” said Mr. Diokno.
He also said that 20 out of 42 airports nationwide have been rated to accommodate evening flights.
He said that the government aims to finish the construction, rehabilitation, and night-rating of airports before 2022.
“All the (airport) projects there will be finished within our term. We have a program of doing all within the President’s term,” Mr. Diokno said. — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan