Cavite LGU pushes $10-B airport proposal with China help

Iris Gonzales - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The province of Cavite’s proposal to build a $10-billion airport in Sangley Point has won the full support of China, particularly its One Belt, One Road initiative.

In an interview with The STAR, proponents said the ambitious Sangley International Airport project, which seeks to develop the former United States naval station into a modern gateway, is envisioned to become an alternative to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) which is presently operating way beyond its capacity.

Proponents said the project would significantly reduce traffic in Metro Manila as passengers would not have need to go through EDSA, and there would be new road projects connecting to Sangley. They also stressed that it would complement the existing Clark International Airport in the north.

This particular government-to-government proposal has already been submitted to the Department of Transportation for approval. It is different from the $12 billion offer of the rival group – the Tieng family in tandem with Henry Sy’s Belle Corp -- to also build an airport in Sangley.

“Funding will go through the OBOR (One Belt, One Road) initiative,” said Noel Salazar, managing director of CLSA Exchange Capital and adviser for the Sangley Point International Airport.  

Proponents signed a development agreement with the Citic Group, formerly the China International Trust Investment Corp., which is a state-owned investment company of the People’s Republic of China. CLSA is the local unit of the CITIC Group. 

China’s One Belt, One Road initiative is dubbed as the modern version of China’s Silk Road, wherein China intends to have stronger economic, infrastructure, and trade cooperation with Asian countries including the Philippines.

Under the proposal, Sangley Airport will be developed in phases with the first runway to operate as supplemental runway to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, handling a design capacity of 25 million passengers per annum (mppa), according to documents obtained by The STAR.
The first runway with a capex of $3.8 billion can be operational as early as 2022.

Proponents will then establish a second runway, with a capex of $5.5 billion, to take over the capacity from NAIA, with a design capacity for 75 mppa 

Third and fourth runways can be established upon certain demand triggers, which can eventually accommodate 130 mppa.

The province of Cavite is currently led by Gov. Jesus Crispin Remulla.

Proponents are unfazed by the rival group’s offer, considering that the group would have to get the approval of the local government of Cavite first before getting the nod of the government. 

Thus, the provincial government of Cavite is hopeful it would get the nod of the Duterte administration for the “government-to-government” proposal, saying that it is not an unsolicited offer, which takes a longer time because of the Swiss Challenge clause.

Proponents said NAIA is at extreme over-congestion and cannot meet future demand growth with its maximum design capacity at only 35 million passengers. Last year, it handled 42 million passengers.

Sangley has been recommended by the Japan International Cooperation Agency as the best option for a new airport out of nine pre-selected sites.




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