San Miguel plans $12.7b Philippine airport

San Miguel plans $12.7b Philippine airport

MANILA - San Miguel Corporation, the Philippines’ most diversified conglomerate, is planning to build a US$10 billion (S$12.7 billion) airport to rival Asia’s premier gateways. “It will be a new airport that will outclass everybody in the region,” San Miguel’s president Ramon Ang told Japan’s Nikkei business weekly in an interview yesterday.

A San Miguel official who asked not to be named because he is not authorised to speak publicly about the project told The Straits Times: “This will be an airport to rival Changi and Hong Kong’s international airports in terms of accessibility, convenience and capacity.”

San Miguel plans to build the new airport in five years on an 800ha lot in metropolitan Manila, double the land area that the ageing Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) now occupies.

Mr Ang declined to reveal where the new airport would be sited, saying the information might induce land speculation. The San Miguel official who spoke to ST suggested it could be along the 7.15km Naia expressway that the company is already building to link Naia’s Terminals I and II to two major road networks in southern metropolitan Manila.

The new airport will have four runways and double the handling capacity of the current airport.

Naia runs under a single-runway system. It has four terminals but is heavily congested. It handled 33 million passengers last year, one million more than its capacity.

In comparison, the Changi and Hong Kong airports handle more than 50 million passengers each annually.

San Miguel expects the new airport, with the projected growth in passenger traffic, to improve toll revenues from the 11 billion peso (S$309 million) Naia expressway and a 13.4km, four-lane elevated highway that it is also building.

San Miguel’s interest in building a new airport is also underpinned by its ownership of flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL).

Mr Ang said the proposed airport would become PAL’s exclusive hub in the first few years of operation. It would be opened to other domestic and foreign carriers later.

PAL has exclusive use of Naia Terminal 2. International airlines use Terminal 1. Built 32 years ago, it has suffered from being ranked as one of the world’s worst terminals.

Mr Ang said he would submit the proposed airport plan to President Benigno Aquino next month. The new airport would be offered to the government under a build-operate- transfer scheme, he said, which means the airport’s ownership will be turned over to the government after 25 years.

The government is itself looking at building another airport in Sangley Point, Cavite province, south of Manila. But geologists have warned that soil erosion in the area may not make it a feasible location for an international airport.

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