Friday, May 16, 2014

Ang seeks partners with $7 billion in airport bid

San Miguel Corp. (SMC) might allot as much as $3 billion in equity to fund its proposed $10-billion airport, as it scouts for partners to develop the international gateway in a large chunk of land in the southern part of the metropolis. SMC President and Chief Executive Officer Ramon S. Ang on late Thursday revealed the particulars of his planned air hub, noting that the airport would be built in a 1,600-hectare land in the cities of Parañaque and Las Piñas. He met with President Aquino on Wednesday to present his plan, which was “very much liked” by the Chief Executive. 

The businessman said he merely presented the airport plan to the President, adding that the project would be subject to government auction. “They [government] will put together the idea, and they will call for a public bidding. I will not ask the government to give me a right of first refusal, that’s not right. So what we presented is a good idea, a good project, and I don’t want people to say that I have an advantage over anybody; so it’s okay for me to call for a public bidding to give equal chance, equal opportunities to build this airport,” Ang said in an interview. “The airport will have complete features, including a general aviation office, maintenance facilities, a low-cost carrier terminal, a train system, a dedicated tollway—everything that you need will be built on that 1,600-hectare land,” he said.

The airport, he said, will have four runways to ensure the smooth flow of air traffic for the next 30 years. “So when you board an airplane, in less than five minutes it will already take off, so you won’t have to wait and sit for 45 minutes to an hour before flying,” Ang said. “An arriving aircraft doesn’t need to keep circling overhead; it can come direct, descend direct, and land direct,” he said. The businessman said he plans to partner with a firm to jointly develop the airport, but that he has not talked to any company to tie up with. “We are not yet in talks with anybody but if we were to have a partner, I will invite a Filipino company...Cebu Pacific can also build a low-cost terminal there, and if we are allowed to partner with many entities, we are open to anybody,” he said. 

Ang, who also serves as president and chief operating officer of Philippine Airlines, said getting another carrier operator as a partner would not be a problem to him. “If you are thinking about the good of your country, you wouldn’t worry about that anymore,” he said. Even with the partnership, Ang said SMC may allot as much as $3 billion in equity to fund the construction of the airport. “We don’t have the financial details yet, but to build that unit maybe [we could allot] 20-percent equity or at least a $2-billion to $3-billion equity [for the building of the airport],” Ang said. He said he expected to see investments return by the airport’s 15th year of operation. 

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