An upgraded and efficient Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) can generate inclusive and significant economic growth and create more than a million jobs across the country through tourism and investments.”
If there is one single economic catalyst that carries so much punch, it is Naia.
That we are an archipelago endowed with natural beauty makes Naia even more important,” said Jimbo Reverente, spokesperson for the Naia Consortium which has a pending proposal to expand and improve Naia.
He cited a study by Oxford Economics and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) that said the local aviation sector contributed 3.2 percent or more than $9 billion of the country’s 2014 GDP and generated a total of 1.2 million jobs.
The sector has grown since then and Naia must grow as well to keep driving growth, he said, adding that time is running out to prevent “Naia from becoming the next EDSA.”In 2014, Oxford said 38.8 million flew through Naia.
Last year, the figure was 42 million. This year, it will be 44 million.”
In all those years, Naia’s terminal capacity remained constrained at 31 million.
If we want air transport to create more economic wealth and generate more jobs, we have to expand, upgrade and improve Naia now, not later,” he said.
The Oxford study said of the 1.2 million jobs created in 2014, close to a million came from tourism. “Clearly, Naia is a lifeline for the countryside.
Tourism is one of the ways the government can achieve its goal of making the country’s growth more inclusive.
The bigger and better Naia is, the better for everybody all over the country,” he said.
The all-Filipino consortium, consisting of seven of the largest corporations in the country, proposes to raise Naia’s terminal capacity of 31 million to 47 million in two years, or in 2020, and to 65 million in four years, or 2022.
Reverente qualified, however, that to enable the consortium to deliver, it must get the notice to proceed from the government by late this year.
“Naia is a must-solve-now challenge. The country cannot wait.
We hope the government can expedite the approval process so we can start re-building our gateway and giving passengers an experience they only enjoy when abroad,” he added.
Aside from tourism, he said Naia is the portal through which investors and exports like electronics and manufacturing pass.
The same Oxford study showed that in 2014, the country exported $82.2 billion worth of goods and services.
Naia, he said, is at the heart of the country’s economic action and so close to most industrial estates that it must be considered a national economic asset that needs immediate remedial attention.
In a letter dated 12 March 2018 addressed to the representatives of the Naia Consortium relating to the “completeness review” of the unsolicited proposal, the Department of Transportation has declared the proposal as “in accordance with the documentary requirements” stated in the BOT Law.”
This finding is a major milestone for an unsolicited proposal likes ours to progress in the bureaucracy.
An incomplete proposal does not move forward,” said Jimbo Reverente, spokesperson for the Naia consortium.
Earlier, the consortium met the first milestone: being the first to submit a proposal, on February 12.
The “completeness” criterion will be followed by the evaluation of the proposal and grant of an original proponent status and, after further evaluations and approval by Neda, subjecting the proposal to a Swiss challenge, he said.”We thank Sec. Arturo Tugade for this crucial milestone.
With a supportive government and with seven of the largest conglomerates working together, the task is very doable,” he said.
The proposal has several phases, starting with the most urgent: addressing terminal congestion.”Last year, a total of 42 million passengers passed through the four Naia terminals designed to carry only 31 million passengers.
We are hoping to clear the government’s approval process and Swiss challenge at the soonest, so we can begin our work immediately thereafter,” he said.
“Increases in Naia’s terminal design capacity to 47 million will be achieved after two years from award, and to 65 million after four years from award.”
Reverente said the consortium can deliver fast if the government expedites the approval process as allowed by the rules because the terminals are bursting at the seams and air travel is surging.
“This is actually a national emergency of sorts because Naia holds the key to making business and the economy grow, generating millions of jobs, and even helping the peace process in Mindanao as tourism and investments there grow,” he added.
This first wave of expansion will cost $2 billion or over P100 billion. “Our timetable is the shortest and our budget is cost-efficient” he said.Reverente also said the consortium engaged Changi International Airport of Singapore as a technical consultant to make sure the upgraded Naia to deliver premiere gateway to the Filipino people.