Saturday, 5 March 2011

Indra submits study for Clark airport project

Business Mirror

MADRID-BASED Indra group has submitted to Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Corp. (MPIC) initial results of the feasibility for the construction of an ambitious multimillion dollar airport project in Clark, Pampanga.

“They submitted an initial result a month ago. Actually, they are impressive. It’s more complex than we thought,” MPIC chairman Manuel Pangilinan said in an interview.

Indra is due to submit another report to MPIC within the month, added Pangilinan.

“The study being done by Indra is still ongoing. They indicated to us they should have their initial conclusion this March. By this month we should have an idea, including [project cost],” said the official.

MPIC, being the local infrastructure arm of First Pacific Co. Ltd., has no expertise in airport development. Pangilinan stressed the importance of tapping consultants that would advise his company on the technical and financial aspects of the project. There is also a need to talk with several advisors knowledgeable in airport engineering and design, he added.  

“The consultants will say how much. It depends on a lot of factors. It’s not yet clear if entire domestic and international operations will be moved to Clark or just the international.  We are not into airports so we don’t know how much,” said Pangilinan, who added that the MPIC would certainly not acquire an airline given the volatile fuel prices.

MPIC wants to be part of the development of Diosdado Macapagal International Airport’s  (DMIA) Terminal 2 and a construction of a high-speed railway system to transport passengers coming from the metropolis all the way to Clark in Pampanga.

The study being drawn by Indra also covers the railway component of the airport project.

Pangilinan met with Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) president and chief executive officer Victor Jose I. Luciano in January  to convey his interest to do business there.

The DMIA is being groomed to become the next international gateway of the country.

The CIAC official said there are no studies available yet that will determine the scope of the railway system project. But once established, its speed is estimated at 300 kilometers per hour which should transport passengers in about 34 minutes from the metropolis all the way directly to the DMIA.

“Pangilinan is sending his team here soon. He has a big interest in this project and he really wants to be part of it. He wants it accelerated,” Luciano had said.

MPIC and diversifying conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) earlier announced that they are going to partner with a Filipino-Korean consortium led by Philco Aero, which earlier made an unsolicited proposal to construct a $177-million new terminal at the DMIA.

But Pangilinan said the technical advisor that MPIC will tap will be solely for his group PIC and not for the joint-venture firm.

“We would recommend to them.  I assume they also don’t have any knowledge in airport also. It is best to have somebody that has run an airport before,” said Pangilinan.

The project, estimated to cost around $150 million, will be able to accommodate up to 10 million passengers a year when completed.

But lately, MPIC and SMC, according to Pangilinan, have not discussed the matter. But this is not stopping the telco executive from pursuing his intent to help develop an international-airport system.

Business groups in Pampanga and Central Luzon have welcomed the move by MPIC and SMC.

The airport project will complement the Nlex-Slex (North Luzon Expressway-South Luzon Expressway) connector road project that will be spearheaded by Metro Pacific Tollways Corp., MPIC’s subsidiary.

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