The Manila International Airport Consortium said it will spend as much as 267 billion pesos ($4.8 billion) to upgrade the country’s congested main international gateway amid a post-pandemic tourism boom.
The consortium—backed by the country’s biggest conglomerates including billionaire Andrew Tan’s Alliance Global Group, and Filinvest Development and JG Summit—partnered with U.S.-based Global Infrastructure Partners, which has interests in airports across London and Sydney, to modernize the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and more than double its capacity to 70 million passengers a year by 2048 from 31 million currently.
The project will be implemented in phases, with the first phase expected to bring NAIA annual passenger capacity to 54 million by 2025 and then to 62.5 million by 2028. The consortium budgeted 100 billion pesos when it proposed the project in April.
“The Manila International Airport Consortium recognizes the immense task of transforming NAIA to meet the exponentially growing demands of Mega Manila air travel, not only in the here and now but also in the future,” Kevin Tan, chairman and president of Alliance Global-InfraCorp Development. “It is because of this that the members of the consortium have pooled together its significant resources, technical expertise and operational experience to put forward a NAIA Masterplan.”
The consortium also includes Ayala Corp’s AC Infrastructure, Aboitiz InfraCapital (operator of Mactan-Cebu International Airport) and billionaire Lucio Tan’s Asia’s Emerging Dragon Corp. A proposal to upgrade NAIA in 2018 was rejected by then-President Rodrigo Duterte during the pandemic.
The country’s main international gateway—which was voted the world’s worst airport a few times by the travel website Sleeping In Airports—has been struggling to cope with burgeoning passenger traffic since flights resumed after pandemic restrictions were lifted. A power failure in January forced the cancellation of more than 300 flights and stranded more than 65,000 passengers. A power outage in May disrupted another 48 flights.
The consortium’s proposal “represents the fastest route to the rehabilitation and modernization that NAIA urgently needs,” Cosette Canilao, president and CEO of Aboitiz InfraCapital said.
Of the consortium’s proposed investment, 57 billion pesos will be paid to the government for a 25-year concession to manage and operate the airport, while the rest would be spent on modernizing the facility.