THE CONSORTIUM proposing to rehabilitate Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) said it is committed to the Department of Transportation’s (DoTr) timeline for submitting the project proposal, which has an April 30 deadline.

“We are ready to submit (the updated proposal) within the week,” Aboitiz InfraCapital, Inc. Chief Operating Officer Cosette V. Canilao told reporters on Monday.

Aboitiz InfraCapital is one of the seven conglomerates that make up the NAIA consortium, the rest being AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp.; Alliance Global Group, Inc.; Asia’s Emerging Dragon Corp.; Filinvest Development Corp.; JG Summit Holdings, Inc.; and Metro Pacific Investments Corp.

Last month, Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade said he wants the consortium to finalize its contract terms for the NAIA rehabilitation project by April 30, or else he may drop the proposal altogether.

Mr. Tugade said negotiations for the contract terms are taking too long as the government had initially planned to finish the concession terms before the end of 2018.

The consortium was given original proponent status in September for its P102-billion airport project, but discussions with DoTr on the contract terms are still ongoing, delaying the proposal from reaching the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) for evaluation.

“I think the issue became (about) risk management, how do we address the risk management issues of both government and us… [W]e’ve addressed those and we’re set to comply with the deadline given by the DoTr secretary,” Ms. Canilao said.

“I think from our end, since we’re submitting a proposal to them based on their concerns, that’s a tell-tale sign that we are very eager to do this project,” she added.

The consortium is proposing to rehabilitate and expand NAIA over a 15-year period, with a target of increasing its capacity from the current 30.5 million annual passengers to 47 million in two years and to 65 million in four years.

Meanwhile, Ms. Canilao said Aboitiz InfraCapital’s unsolicited proposals for the Bohol-Panglao International Airport and Laguindingan Airport may undergo Swiss challenge by the first half of the year.

“(It’s with) NEDA-ICC (Investment Coordination Committee), and then it will go to NEDA Board,” she said when asked if the proposals are expected to undergo Swiss challenge in the coming months.

The listed firm earlier said it is targeting to start operating the two airports before 2019 ends. Ms. Canilao noted Aboitiz InfraCapital is “continually looking for opportunities to develop and rehabilitate regional gateways.” — Denise A. Valdez