24 January 2017

3 firms eye Subic airport redev’t

Three firms have expressed interest for the redevelopment of Subic International Airport (SBIA).

Martin Dino, chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, in a letter to transportation secretary Arthur Tugade identified these AIA Airways, Intercontinental Pacific Airways and RIL International & Global Link Co., Ltd.

AIA Airways wants to build a $1.5-billion logistics center and transshipment hub for cargo airline operations, supported by a maintenance repair station and a world-class aviation institution in the tradition of the US Dallas Forth Worth. It is projected to generate 800 new jobs.

RIL International & Global Link Co., Ltd has made a $1.5-billion proposal to lease, develop, upgrade, modernize and operate the SBIA to include provisions for a modern airport terminal, hotels, theme parks and a sports complex.

The third, Intercontinental Pacific Airways wants a $48-million airlines operations center including maintenance, repair and overhaul operations. It is projected to employ 610 workers

Dino said the projected P2 billion upgrade will turn the facility, formerly a hub for logistics company Federal Express (FedEx), into a major international gateway for travelers to the Philippines.

“We want the airport to be fully operational again, and to be at par with the best airports in Asia and the world,” he said.

SBIA boasts of long runway fitted to handle long-haul wide-body jets and heavy air transport, Dino said.

The 200-hectare aviation facility, can handle commercial or chartered aircraft operation, air cargo handling and warehousing, aircraft repair and maintenance and other general aviation businesses. It features a 2,700-meter runway and a 10,000-square-meter passenger terminal that can handle 700 passengers.

SBIA has been mostly idle since mid-2009 when FedEx closed down its Asia-Pacific transshipment hub and moved its entire hub operations to Guangzhou, China

Dino expressed optimism the upgraded SBIA can be made operational in six months to one year after construction.

Redeveloping Subic’s airport is part of five priority projects the SBMA under Dino has proposed to President Duterte to decongest congestion in Metro Manila.

“The redevelopment would raise the Subic airport’s facilities to international standards capable of handling thousands of passengers and all types of cargo,” he said.

“It could serve as an inter-modal (airport-seaport) logistics hub and a strategic area for cruise destinations (mother ports), junket trips, VIP Jet services and other-related air travel, Dino added.

Dino said that new tourism and manufacturing investments could generate 100,000 new jobs, and exports, including those from nearby economic free zones in Luzon, could increase to about $43.35-billion per year.

“By enhancing Subic’s importance as a gateway, it could generate foreign direct investments estimated at $13.5-billion,” Dino said.

Dino also proposed the construction of a 100-kilometer multi-modal elevated expressway and railway from Subic Port to the Port of Manila.

The other priority projects within the Freeport include the building of major infrastructure that, Dino said, “will begin to shift the momentum of development north toward Subic and Clark.

Compared to other cities, the Subic-Clark corridor “is the only place that has a sustainable future” and its “full-blown expansion is the key” that would trigger an inflow of investments, Dino said. (Albert Castro, Malaya)