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Manila-Clark railway attracts MPIC’s interest

Vol. XXII, No. 187 [ BusinessWorld Online ]

Monday, April 27, 2009 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

METRO PACIFIC Investments Corp. (MPIC) is considering bidding for a 120-kilometer high-speed rail project that will link the Metro Manila and Clark Freeport airports, a Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) official said on Friday.

The railway is being touted as a key component of plans to make Clark’s Diosdado Macapagal International Airport the country’s main hub given the Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s (NAIA) limited capacity for expansion.

"Right now, we can see that NAIA will become congested. Twenty-five million international and domestic passengers arrive in NAIA [annually]. That will keep on growing," CIAC President and CEO Victor Jose I. Luciano told an outsourcing forum.

In contrast, the Clark airport sits on land roughly four times as large as NAIA’s and its runways are the only ones in the Philippines that can accommodate the large Airbus A380, he said.

"We are looking at ... the Japan model where Narita is the international airport and Haneda in Tokyo is the domestic airport," Mr. Luciano said.

"The other day I was with [MPIC chairman] Manuel V. Pangilinan. He has the interconnecting right-of-way between Caloocan and Magallanes and that is the key," he said. "[MPIC] will have an advantage because it has the right-of-way."

Mr. Pangilinan, who also heads the country’s biggest telco, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT), was not available for comment but an official confirmed MPIC’s interest.

"Since [the firm] is in talks to connect the South Luzon Expressway to the North Luzon Expressway, it makes sense to look at the project," the official, who requested anonymity, said.

Trains are expected to run at over 200 kilometers per hour during the 34- to 45-minute journey.

Mediaquest Holdings Inc., a unit of the Beneficial Trust Fund of PLDT, has a minority interest in BusinessWorld. — Jessica Anne D. Hermosa


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