This file photo shows a boarding gate at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Philstar.com/Kristine Joy Patag

Megawide stresses financial prowess as rumors losing NAIA rehab swirl

Ian Nicolas Cigaral (Philstar.com) - January 20, 2021 - 5:24pm

MANILA, Philippines — Awaiting final word from the government over its appeal, Megawide Construction Corp. on Wednesday reiterated that the company has the financial prowess to renovate Manila’s aging main gateway.

“What I can say is we have the GMR partner which has experience in operating and managing not only the terminal but also the air side,” Edgar Saavedra, president and chief executive, said in an online forum organized by the Management Association of the Philippines.

Apart from its Indian backing from GMR Infrastructure Inc., Saavedra also said that the conglomerate had actually reached out to banks for possible funding, “and most of them want to finance the project.”

Megawide is currently fighting for its original proponent status (OPS) for the rehabilitation project of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport after its first proposal worth P109-billion was deemed too big for the firm to absorb.

A motion to reconsider the rejection was filed last December, and rumors had it that the Manila International Airport Authority, which is putting NAIA renovation up to bid, had ultimately seal the government’s denial of Megawide’s plan last, and hence, its OPS last January 14. But Saavedra said the firm had not received any response yet.

“Whatever the government decision is, we will comply,” he said. MIAA officials had not responded to persistent requests for comment.

If indeed Megawide’s plan had been rejected with finality, it would mark fresh delays on the much-awaited NAIA Project that was actually inherited from the previous administration. The Duterte government vowed to speed up the project when it took over, until the pandemic forced a consortium of six conglomerates to back out as original OPS holders in July. 

A month after, Megawide put forward its own blueprint.

A key contention over Megawide’s proposal is the company’s supposed lack of sufficient capital to fund the undertaking, which was questioned by no less than Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua.

The delays were so extensive already that Dominguez even threatened to just have the government itself refurbish NAIA.

While Megawide’s awaits feedback, government is also assessing other renovation proposals from San Miguel Corp. and Philippine Airport Ground Support Solutions. Saavedra has no problem with these competing proposals, but added that multiple players operating different airports would be better.

That is because San Miguel was also approved recently to construct a new international gateway in Bulacan, around 2 hours north of Manila, against fears it would be competing against NAIA for fliers. For Saavedra, having the Bulacan airport around by 2025 should not mean NAIA’s closure.

“We think that NAIA can still be rehabilitated and improved and we know that by the time the new (Bulacan) airport is built, NAIA will be able to cater without any delays,” he pointed out.

“We believe NAIA can be retained because considering the size of Metro Manila, we need more than one airport,” he added.

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