By Denise A. Valdez

MEGAWIDE Construction Corp. is taking interest in the Cavite government’s plan to build a commercial airport at Sangley Point at the former US Navy station in the province, company officials said last week.

Jaime Raphael C. Feliciano, chief business development officer of the listed engineering firm, told reporters on Friday the company is evaluating prospects of the airport project.

If it participates in the auction, this would be the third airport project in Megawide’s portfolio.

“We’ve accessed the bidding documents. We’re now looking at the terms. We’re also looking at potential partnerships,” he said.

Megawide is the operator of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport through subsidiary GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. (GMCAC).

It is also building Clark International Airport’s new passenger terminal with GMR Infrastructure Ltd.

“We’re still reviewing the terms, but definitely we’re interested because we’re already in Cebu,” GMCAC President Manuel Louie B. Ferrer said when asked about plans for the prospective Cavite airport.

He said the project is especially appealing because it will help decongest Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the country’s premier air gateway.

Cavite’s government plans to build a $10-billion airport out of the former US naval facility that now houses the Philippine Airforce’s Danilo Atienza Airbase. It previously said it was considering tapping Chinese partners for the project.

In a mobile phone message on Sunday, Cavite Gov. Juanito Victor C. Remulla confirmed that seven groups have bought bid documents for the project, including listed conglomerate Metro Pacific Investments Corp.; MacroAsia Properties Development Corp.; Prime Asset Ventures, Inc. and Philippine Airport Ground Support Solutions, Inc. Other buyers of bid documents for the Sangley airport are Langham Properties, Inc.; Chinese Communications Construction Co. and Mosveldtt Law Offices. Mr. Ferrer hinted that one of the groups that bought bid documents also represented Megawide.

Companies that will join the auction must submit their tenders on Nov. 25. The city government intends to decide on who will build the project by the end of the month.

The Cavite government plans to build an airport with four runways — double NAIA’s two runways — and a terminal than can handle 100 million passengers annually.

Mr. Remulla has said groundbreaking for the project is scheduled on Jan. 15 and that the airport will be operational by 2023. The fourth runway, he added, will be opened after six years.

Megawide previously planned to submit an unsolicited proposal for the rehabilitation of NAIA, but the government chose a consortium of seven big companies. It had also expressed interest in the auction for the operation and maintenance of Clark International Airport, but ended up not submitting a bid.

The engineering firm saw its attributable net income cut to P649.72 million in the nine months to September, which it attributed to a 13% rise in operating expenses to P125 million and a 44% jump in financing costs to P1.12 billion.