Philippines’ Sangley Point project back on, but may be blighted by historical precedent. Part one

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Manila, the capital of the Philippines, is not exactly at the centre of the air transport business in Southeast Asia. In 2019 the Ninoy Aquino airport there was 15-20 million annual passengers behind airports such as the Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airports – underachieving and suffering from a lack of investment relative to its neighbours.

Then two competing proposals were submitted for new airports. One of them, at Sangley Point and based on an existing military airfield, was rejected on vague grounds but has subsequently been resurrected with a private sector ‘Original Proponent’ working with the local province – a comprehensive consortium – which is well placed to be the final developer, subject to a bid mechanism.

However, if and when it is built there will be competition from another new airport from a separate developer, in addition to the input from Ninoy Aquino airport (while it remains open) and the Clark International Airport, north of the metropolis.

With a newly installed president who is the son of a previous dictator and a vice-president who is the daughter of the immediately prior president, it could be argued that two families ‘rule’ The Philippines. Which of these airports will ‘rule’ Manila offers almost as much intrigue.

This is part one of a two-part report.

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