Chinese-backed group loses USD 10 bn Philippine airport project: Report

Manila: In a snub to China, Beijing-backed consortium has lost the right to develop a USD 10 billion airport project in the Philippines, Nikkei Asia reported.

MacroAsia, the Philippine partner of state-owned China Communications Construction Co. (CCCC), told the Philippine Stock Exchange that the Cavite provincial government had cancelled the notice of award it granted to the consortium last year.

The airport is one of the high-profile projects supported by Chinese companies that have clinched infrastructure projects in the Philippines since President Rodrigo Duterte embraced China as an economic partner in 2016.

The CCCC is blacklisted in the US for its role in reclamation projects in the South China Sea, where Manila and Beijing are locked in territorial disputes.

The Sangley Point International Airport project, located south of the Philippine capital, is aimed at alleviating congestion at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

The project involves a massive reclamation of Manila Bay and will be able to accommodate over 100 million passengers annually once completed, according to Nikkei Asia.

Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla said the consortium repeatedly failed to comply with requirements of the joint venture contract with the provincial government. “We gave them two extensions, but they failed to comply with three requirements, a lot of them documentary,” Remulla told Nikkei Asia.

The provincial government plans to reopen bidding for the project next month and MacroAsia and CCCC may still participate, the governor said.

CCCC, a global contractor, was once blacklisted by the World Bank for alleged fraudulent practices in a Philippine road project, and MacroAsia, an aviation support services provider owned by Philippine Airlines Chairman Lucio Tan, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The award’s cancellation comes amid pandemic-induced turmoil in the aviation industry that has hit MacroAsia’s finances.