Major revamp set for Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport with US$3 billion San Miguel-led consortium deal

Ninoy Aquino International Airport

16th February 2024 – (Manila) The Philippines is poised for an infrastructural transformation as the government finalises a landmark HK$3 billion contract to rejuvenate Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), once dubbed one of the globe’s least efficient airports. On Friday, the Department for Transportation announced the selection of a consortium headed by Filipino giant San Miguel Corporation for the modernisation and operation of NAIA in Manila.

San Miguel’s consortium, which boasts collaboration with South Korea’s Incheon International Airport Corp, emerged victorious against competing bids by India’s GMR Airports Consortium and Manila International Airport Consortium. Their successful proposal guarantees an unrivalled 82 per cent of airport revenues to the government.

President of San Miguel, Ramon Ang, expressed confidence in the awarded contract: “We are gratified by the DOTR’s decision to entrust us with the task of elevating NAIA to international standards, ensuring the best outcome for our nation.”

The airport’s notorious inefficiency, marked by chronic flight delays and recent power interruptions, has long called for a comprehensive upgrade. This project is a critical component of the government’s ambitious infrastructure scheme aimed at revitalising and modernising the country’s transport framework, with a substantial reliance on private investment. The scheme includes expansive development of railways, ports, and bridges.

Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista conveyed the significance of this agreement at a press conference, “After decades of inertia, we have taken a definitive step towards privatising the operations and maintenance of Manila’s international airport.”

The terms of the 15-year concession, which holds the option of a decade-long extension, are expected to be formally agreed upon within the next 30 days. San Miguel is tasked with a considerable expansion of NAIA’s capacity, aiming to accommodate at least 60 million passengers yearly—up from 32 million. Additionally, air traffic movements are set to increase to 48 per hour, an improvement on the current 30 to 40.

In 2019, the NAIA estate, covering 600 hectares, handled an unprecedented 48 million passengers. Yet in the following year, operations were severely disrupted by a significant power outage that incapacitated air traffic control, affecting 300 flights.

In response to the escalating demand, new airports are also under construction in the vicinity of Manila, including in Cavite and Bulacan. Notably, the Bulacan project is another San Miguel venture, involving firms that contributed to the construction of Singapore’s renowned Changi Airport.