By Arjay L. Balinbin

LUCIO C. TAN’S MacroAsia Corp. and its Chinese partner are again asking for more time to submit the post-qualification requirements for the $10-billion Sangley Point International Airport (SPIA), said the provincial government of Cavite, which remains keen on the project.

“They asked for an extension which we are inclined to give them,” Cavite Governor Juanito Victor “Jonvic” C. Remulla told BusinessWorld in a phone message on Sunday when asked if the consortium has recently expressed its intent to push through with the submission of the documents on June 11.

The Cavite government had approved the first request of MacroAsia and partner China Communications Construction Co. Ltd. (CCCC) to extend the submission deadline of the post-qualification requirements, which were supposed to be submitted 60 days after it received the notice of award on Feb. 14.

The province gave the consortium more time until the second week of June to process and submit the required documents before a joint venture development agreement is signed.

“Yes, tuloy pa din po (the project is still on),” Cavite’s Public-Private Partnership Selection Committee Legal Officer Jesse R. Grepo told BusinessWorld in a phone message on May 18 when asked if the project would still push through.

“The consortium has been given 60 days or until 11 June 2020 within which to submit their post qualification documents. Nevertheless, the consortium is encouraged to submit the same as early as and to the maximum extent possible given the circumstances, as undertaken in their letter request,” he said, referring to the consortium’s first request for extension.

On Sunday, Mr. Remulla said: “They informed our transaction adviser that they might need more time.”

“We are caught in the middle of the pandemic with no clear path to resumption of normal life. We will study their request and give an answer in a few days,” the governor added.

Mr. Remulla has said that the province was hoping to break ground with its joint venture partner for the first phase of the airport project in the second quarter of the year.

The first phase of the SPIA project, which will cost $4 billion, includes the construction of the Sangley connector road and bridge to connect the Kawit segment of the Manila-Cavite Expressway (CAVITEx) to the international airport.

Phase 1 also involves the construction of the airport’s first runway, which can accommodate 25 million passengers yearly, helping to decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Cavite expects the airport to start fully operating by 2023, with partial operations to start a year earlier. The fourth runway will be opened after six years.

The same consortium will work on the other two phases of the project, but there may be contract renegotiations, according to the Cavite provincial government.

The second phase, which will cost about $6 billion, involves the construction of two more runways, giving the airport an annual capacity of 75 million passengers.

The last phase is the expansion to four runways, bringing capacity to 130 million passengers.