By Doris Dumlao-Abadilla
Construction and engineering firm Megawide Construction Corp. has committed to build a 5-kilometer elevated railway linking all three terminals of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia)—a feature required by the government to consider awarding a 25-year concession to a private sector proponent.
Megawide, which got a second crack at the much-coveted modernization project after the old consortium of tycoons backed out, vowed to banish the stigma of Naia being among the “worst airport” in the world and turn it into an “airport wonder.”
Now under attack by parties questioning its capability to undertake the P109-billion rehabilitation and the role of its foreign partner, GMR of India, Megawide is optimistic on getting the Naia airport concession deal. If and when a deal is finalized, this will be its second airport infrastructure project after the Mactan Cebu International Aiport (MCIA).
In an interview, Edgar Saavedra, president of Megawide, said the group had been given only up to 10 days to match, at the minimum, the basic framework wanted by the government for the Naia concession that the former proponent did not accept. Megawide obtained the original proponent status for the Naia project after accepting such framework.
During the negotiations with the previous proponent, the Department of Transportation was willing to extend the concession term to 25 years from 15 years if the proponent would build an elevated railway. This was among the features that became a deal-breaker during the previous negotiations with the former proponent, but Saavedra said this would be doable. For a 4- to 5-kilometer railway, similar to the airport railways seen in more modern airports abroad, the projected cost is around P10 billion.
While such railway is yet to be built, Megawide vowed to immediately roll out a bus railway system to boost connectivity within the terminals.
“As the first and last impression visitors and overseas Filipino workers will have of the Philippines, Naia itself should deliver a positive, unforgettable experience that people can equate with their stay. We’re not just rehabilitating an airport, we’re creating a new symbol for the country,” said Louie Ferrer, Megawide executive director for infrastructure development.
In creating the architectural design for Naia, Megawide drew inspiration from some of the Philippines’ top sightseeing destinations.
For instance, the proposed architectural design for B4 the transformation of from the 2,000-yearold Banaue Rice Terraces. The central landscape, called the “Hagdan” (staircase) is a sunken garden that’s reminiscent of the terraces.
These terraces are continued in the upper levels of the new parking and commercial building in front of the existing terminal designed by National Artist Leandro Locsin. The landscape and new building are envisioned as a dedicated area for well-wishers and passengers waiting for their flights. This communal space took into consideration the close-knit culture of Filipinos, Ferrer said.
A transparent canopy extends between the existing and new buildings, providing protection from the elements. The latticed wooden detail pays tribute to Filipino weaving patterns and is seen to accentuate the multi-level walkways that connect the two buildings, creating a dramatic backdrop for people strolling through the area. This new feature is designed by Integrated Design Associates (IDA) Hong Kong, the same architectural firm that designed the MCIA Terminal 2 and the new Clark International Airport Passenger Terminal Building.
Originally designed to handle 30 million passengers a year, Naia handled 48 million in 2019. Megawide-GMR’s upgrade proposal will increase Naia’s current capacity to 65 million passengers a year over a strategic and phased approach.