MANILA—The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Wednesday announced that the construction works for the Bulacan airport will begin this year following the conclusion of the project’s Swiss challenge.

Dubbed the New Manila International Airport (NMIA), the PHP735.6 billion project’s construction, operation, and maintenance are set to be awarded to San Miguel Holdings Corporation (SMHC), after no other company challenged the original proponent during a bidding by the DOTr’s Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) at the DOTr office in Clark, Pampanga.

In a message sent to the media, DOTr Assistant Secretary for Communications Goddes Hope Libiran said the next step in the process would be the issuance of a notice of award (NOA) to SMHC within the next five days followed by a notice to proceed (NTP).

Yung NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority) board approval, tapos na yun (that’s done). That was given before the Swiss Challenge. Next step is the issuance of an NOA (within 5 days) and then issuance of the NTP,” Libiran said.

DOTr Assistant Secretary for Procurement and Project Implementation Giovanni Lopez, who also leads the BAC, said once the SMHC has received their NOA, they have 20 days to comply with certain requirements.

“On the notice of award, there are some conditions that should be complied with. These include post-performance security, proof of commitment, among others as stated in the law. They (SMHC) have 20 days to do so,” Lopez said.

The performance security to be required from the SMHC will vary between one or a combination of cash, irrevocable letter of credit and surety bond.

“Cash – a minimum of 2% of the project cost; irrevocable letter of credit – a minimum of 5% of project cost; surety bond – a minimum of 10%,” Libiran said.

Meanwhile, DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade said the NMIA will only be part of a “basket of solutions” introduced by the Duterte administration.

“This new international airport is important in helping ease the congestion of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Together with the expansion of Clark Airport and the construction of additional facilities at Sangley Airport, Bulacan Airport is part of ‘baskets of solutions’ to bring further connectivity to the Filipino people,” Tugade said.

The new international gateway is expected to be operational within four to six years from the start of construction this year.

The NMIA is designed to have a capacity of 100 million passengers per year which can later be expanded to 200 million.

With its four parallel runways planned, the airport targets 240 aircraft movements per hour.

An 8.4-kilometer tollway connecting the airport to the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) in Marilao, Bulacan is also planned to be constructed as part of the project. (PNA)