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Losing NAIA bidders concede, vow to support airport upgrade

Iris Gonzales - The Philippine Star
Losing NAIA bidders concede, vow to support airport upgrade
Passengers crowd the departure lobby while others set up camp inside the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 in Pasay City on Jan. 2, 2023.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — The losing bidders for the 15-year contract to rehabilitate the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) have committed to support the modernization of the airport, which the Marcos administration awarded to a consortium led by diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC), Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista told The STAR over the weekend.

Thus, Bautista said he does not expect any of the rival bidders to protest the results of the NAIA privatization, touted as the biggest public-private partnership (PPP) infrastructure project of the incumbent government.

“I am very happy as we made the bidding very fair and very transparent and the result is a victory for the riding public,” Bautista said.

Representatives of the other bidders “indicated their support to the program,” the transportation chief said, when asked if the government expects a formal protest to be filed against the results of the bidding.

Filing a protest would also entail cost, according to the bidding rules.

Any group intending to file a formal protest must cough up a non-refundable protest fee of P850 million which is 0.5 percent of the P170-billion cost of the project, industry sources said.

It is different from the filing of a manifestation before the Pre-Qualification Bids and Awards Committee (PBAC) which is allowed and in fact, had been done by rival bidders prior to the announcement of the SMC-led consortium as the winner.

In a press conference on  Friday, Bautista announced that the SMC-SAP & Co. Consortium won the bidding after offering to remit to the government as much as 82.16 percent of revenue from NAIA operations, or P900 billion for the duration of the concession period.

On the other hand, the GMR Airports Consortium submitted a proposed share of 33.3 percent, while the Manila International Airport Consortium (MIAC) offered 25.91 percent.

The Asian Airport Consortium of tycoons Lucio Co and Jeffrey Cheng offered the second highest revenue share of at least 75 percent but the consortium was disqualified in the first phase of the bidding and did not reach the second stage of the bidding which was the opening of financial bids.

The DOTr issued the Notice of Award to the SMC-led consortium also on Friday.

Separately, sources from the different losing groups told The STAR they are not likely to file a protest, with some saying that all manifestations were already  filed with the PBAC.

As early as January, one bidder filed a manifestation seeking to disqualify its three other rival groups.

“Anyone can file a manifestation but an appeal is different,” said the source.

SMC-SAP & Co. Consortium consists of San Miguel Holdings Corp., RMM Asian Logistics Inc., RLW Aviation Development Inc. and Incheon International Airport Corp.

Under the contract, the consortium has 15 years, extendable by 10 years, to invest in projects that would improve the gateway.

The goal is to raise the passenger capacity of NAIA to 62 million annually, from 32 million at present, to support future demand for air travel.

This is the first time in 30 years that the privatization of NAIA has moved forward.

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