Passengers are seen at the departure lobby of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 in Pasay City. — PHILIPPINE STAR/MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

THE Department of Transportation (DoTr) said the proposal to privatize the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) currently with the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) will serve as the “baseline” for the levels of investment the government expects to be sunk into the international gateway.

Transport Undersecretary for Aviation and Airports Roberto C.O. Lim said in a briefing on Thursday that the government could issue a bid invitation by September should NEDA approve, adding that an unsolicited proposal for NAIA submitted by a consortium has yet to be evaluated.

“We are just about to start studying the unsolicited proposal, as it is a very comprehensive proposal and it also needs to comply with the requirements stipulated in the Build-Operate-Transfer law,” he said.

“We will be meeting (the consortium behind the unsolicited proposal) next week with some preliminary questions …. Clearly, the unsolicited proposal is not identical to the basic terms and conditions that we have submitted to NEDA, (which sets) a baseline for what we believe are the investments needed for the public-private partnership for NAIA,” he added.

In April, the Manila International Airport Consortium, consisting of six Philippine conglomerates and Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), submitted an unsolicited proposal valued at P100 billion.

The consortium is composed of Aboitiz Infracapital, Inc., AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp., Asia’s Emerging Dragon Corp., Alliance Global – Infracorp Development, Inc., Filinvest Development Corp., JG Summit Infrastructure Holdings Corp. and GIP, an investment fund.

The DoTr and the Manila International Airport Authority also submitted a solicited proposal to privatize the airport last week which will involve capital investment of P141 billion.

Once NEDA approval is obtained, Mr. Lim said, the government could publish the invitation to bid and participate in the privatization exercise by September.

“If we get NEDA approval, let’s say in a month or in a month and a half, by September we can publish the invitation and those who want to participate can acquire the kit that will define what (they will) need to do and to submit,” Mr. Lim said.

Mr. Lim said on Wednesday that the privatization of the NAIA could kick off by the first quarter of next year.

“If we are to use an aggressive timeline, I think we can have a result announced, the selection of winning bidder, by the first quarter of next year,” he said.

“Remember, there is a long process of selection; there is a tech assessment and there will be negotiations. This is an estimate we believe is doable,” he added.

Mr. Lim said that the DoTr has yet to talk with any private group for the solicited proposal as it is still waiting for the approval of NEDA.

“For the solicited mode, we have not yet talked to anybody because we are waiting for the NEDA to give its approval so that we can prepare the comprehensive kit that will be available when we publish in the newspaper an invitation for public bid for the concession of NAIA,” he said.

The public-private partnership project will make operations at the airport more efficient, said Mr. Lim.

“It can lead to a faster rate of investment in modernizing the facility so that we can really introduce the innovations and the technology that are needed just for NAIA to level up along with our neighbors’ airports,” he said. — Justine Irish D. Tabile