San Miguel makes rival bid to build new Manila airport

Mr Ramon Ang's (left) San Miguel company has submitted a $19.8 billion plan for up to six runways to be built in Bulacan, rivalling a $28.4 billion offer from a group led by billionaire Henry Sy (left) to build an airport and seaport south of Manila.
Mr Ramon Ang's (left) San Miguel company has submitted a $19.8 billion plan for up to six runways to be built in Bulacan, rivalling a $28.4 billion offer from a group led by billionaire Henry Sy (right) to build an airport and seaport south of Manila.

MANILA • The battle between tycoons in the Philippines to build a new airport to serve the nation's capital is heating up as San Miguel proposed a 700 billion peso (S$19.8 billion) facility, rivalling an offer from a group led by billionaire Henry Sy.

Shares of San Miguel rose 1.7 per cent to close at 106.60 pesos in Manila yesterday, the highest price since May 2013.

The conglomerate has submitted a plan to the Department of Transportation for up to six runways to be built on a 2,500ha property in Bulacan province, said San Miguel president Ramon Ang in a phone interview on Wednesday.

It will be built without any guarantee or a subsidy from the government, he said. "We will finance everything, build everything by ourselves and take the risk."

The government could sell the 600ha property where the current Manila airport complex is located for US$20 billion, and convert the area into a business district, he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who has vowed to boost infrastructure spending, is also counting on private investors to upgrade facilities as Manila struggles to cope with rising flight traffic and road congestions.

All-Asia Resources and Reclamation, a venture of Mr Sy's Belle Corporation and Solar Group, last October proposed to spend US$20 billion (S$28.4 billion) to build an airport and seaport near a naval base and airbase at Sangley Point, south of Manila.

The airport in Sangley could be up and running in four to five years, said All-Asia Resources in a statement yesterday.

Air passengers passing through Manila will probably more than double to 140 million by 2035, from about 60 million in 2014, according to the International Air Transport Association. The present airport, with four terminals, is already handling traffic in excess of its capacity of 31 million fliers a year, according to the association.

A bigger airport will help the nation's travel and tourism industry, which accounted for 6.1 per cent of the economy in 2016, up from 4.2 per cent the previous year, according to data from the World Travel and Tourism Council.

The government also plans to double the capacity of an airport at a former US military base north of Manila.

San Miguel, the Philippines' largest company, plans to initially build four runways with a length of 3.5km and width of 600m that can serve 100 million passengers annually. Eventually, the project can be expanded to six runways and service 150 million passengers, according to the proposal.

All-Asia said the country should have two international airports, the one in Sangley and the facility in Clark.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 17, 2017, with the headline 'San Miguel makes rival bid to build new Manila airport'. Print Edition | Subscribe