NAIA privatization could start in June

By Elijah Felice Rosales | The Philippine Star
April 12, 2023

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) expects the release of the proposed terms of reference (TOR) for the privatization of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on or before June.

In an interview with reporters, Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said the DOTr may move forward with the privatization of NAIA in the second half of 2023 with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) set to submit its proposed TOR by June.

“The ADB is still finalizing. In a few months there will be developments. Hopefully, before June we’ll be able to finalize the terms of reference,” Bautista said.

The TOR lists down the requirements that proponents have to comply with to participate in the privatization of NAIA. It also defines the conditions for the turnover of the airport to the private sector, including the concession period and revenue sharing.

Bautista said the ADB is conducting market sounding activities for the privatization of the Manila airport. Through this, the multilateral agency receives insights from private firms on their preferred conditions for the TOR.

Further, the ADB is evaluating the future air traffic in NAIA to assess how profitable it could be to entice investors to participate in the privatization program.

“The ADB is doing market sounding, meaning, it is checking the preference of investors because that should be studied closely for the government to secure competitive proposals,” Bautista said.

“Also, the ADB is completing a traffic study. It is one of the basis in preparing the terms of reference,” he said.

On the other hand, the DOTr has submitted to the Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) the revised proposal of the Aboitiz Group to operate and maintain regional airports. In particular, the Aboitiz Group wants to upgrade the gateways in Bohol and Laguindingan.

Bautista said the DOTr is waiting on the revised proposals for the privatization of the airports in Bacolod, Davao, Iloilo and Puerto Princesa. Once received, the agency will forward them to the ICC for its evaluation and approval.

Under the Marcos administration, the government will turn over the operations and maintenance of multiple airports to the private sector to improve aviation infrastructure across the country and trim its fiscal deficit by cutting expenses.

For 2023 alone, the DOTr expects P1 trillion worth of airport projects to be finished by both the public and private sectors.