MANILA: The Philippines attracted four bidders in an auction for the 170.6 billion pesos (US$3 billion) upgrade of its main international airport, the transportation ministry said on Wednesday.
Ranked by some travel service firms among the world’s worst international gateways, the ageing Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the fifth largest in Southeast Asia, needs an upgrade to solve chronic flight delays and passenger congestion.
“This is a very important project of the government as we want all our passengers improved travel experience,” transportation secretary Jaime Bautista said on Wednesday. “You all know this airport is very very congested.”
Firms that submitted bids were the Manila International Airport Consortium, Asian Airport Consortium, GMR Airports Consortium, and SMC SAP & Co Consortium, the bids and awards committee said.
The transportation ministry is expected to award in the first quarter the 15-year concession that is extendable by another 10 years.
NAIA handled a record 48 million passengers in 2019 despite its designed capacity of only 32 million passengers. The upgraded airport aims to serve at least 60 million passengers annually from the current 35 million.
Previous attempts to modernise the gateway were abandoned due to disputes between airport authorities, contractors, and potential bidders.
Known for white sandy beaches and tropical weather, the Philippines targets attracting 7.7 million foreign tourists in 2024, though still below the pre-pandemic record of 8.26 million in 2019, to boost one of Asia’s fastest growing economies.