business.travel.3.16.13


MANILA — Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) has put on hold indefinitely its planned $6-billion international airport that would serve as an alternative to the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) due to unclear policy from the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), according to the Philippine Star.

PAL president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang said in a press briefing that the proposed international gateway that was supposed to be presented to President Benigno Aquino III last month has been postponed indefinitely.

“I’m just waiting for everyone else to put their cards down. That is when we will present this to the national government,” he said.

Ang said PAL — which is jointly owned by tobacco magnate Lucio Tan, as well as diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) — would wait for clear policy from the Aquino Administration on the establishment of a new airport.

He cited the case of the P17.5-billion Mactan-Cebu international airport project wherein the DOTC issued the terms of reference (TOR) on Dec. 27 preventing companies with interests in airlines and airline-related business from participating in the bidding.

The TOR was opposed by major bidders, including PAL, SMC and Cebu Air Inc. (Cebu Pacific) of taipan John L. Gokongwei Jr. prompting the DOTC to revise the guidelines.

Under Special Bid Bulletin 02-2013 issued on Feb. 1, several provisions were revised including the supposed ban on owners of airlines to participate in the bidding.

The revised guidelines stated that “if the prospective bidder is a consortium and any consortium member or such consortium members’ affiliates is an airline-related entity, then such consortium member cannot own or be proposed to own more than 33 percent if the total equity in such consortium.”

“If there is more than one consortium member that is an airline-related entity, then such consortium members cannot own or be proposed to own an aggregate of more than 33-percent total equity in such corporation.”

Ang lamented the decision of the DOTC to limit the participation of certain companies in the project that would lead to the establishment of the country’s second largest international gateway.

“If you want the best deal, you let everyone bid. That’s what you call transparent. If you want to be transparent, you have to let everyone join because it will maximize the potential of the project,” the PAL chief stressed.

He pointed out that SMC is the biggest investor in the country having invested $10 billion for the re-fleeting of PAL, $2.7 billion for the refinery of Petron Corp., $2.4 billion for power generating projects, $1 billion for the connector road, among others.

He cited that several countries have a multi-airport system wherein several airports co-exist.

“Is it a good idea for a Filipino company to build something? Our project can coexist with NAIA and the Clark international airport. I cannot understand the 33- percent restriction,” he said.