dcsimg Gateway Asia 2030 - Ramboll Group

Gateway Asia 2030

As one of the world’s most densely populated capitals, Manila struggles with insufficient transport infrastructure. This can slow down economic growth and hinder economic potential. A large-scale transport plan for Manila Bay will help solve the problem by interconnecting air- and seaport facilities.

By Kristine Barenholdt Bruun

With a GDP growth of 7% per year, the Philippines is among the fastest-growing economies in Southeast Asia. Yet much of the Philippines’ economic and social potential remains untapped, and the country could play a much stronger role in the global village. Experts and politicians agree that a clogged infrastructure is at the root of the problem.

“People lose precious hours when travelling to Manila, so the city gets bypassed the next time they plan a conference or consider new investments or a new company location,” explains Frantz Buch Knudsen, project director at Ramboll and a driving force behind a new large-scale transport plan for Manila, Gateway Asia 2030, a project encompassing overall infrastructure, an airport and a seaport.


The infrastructure also plays an important role when it comes to rebuilding cities after natural disasters such as the typhoon Haiyan, which devastated parts of the country in November 2013. Every year, storms are damaging Philippian cities, and an economic rise based on a well functioning transport system can contribute to better protection and a strengthening of affected areas. 

Today, Manila International Airport ranks among the world’s least attractive. It handles over seven million more passengers a year than originally intended and cannot meet future requirements for capacity expansion. At the same time access to and from the airport is extremely time-consuming; driving just a few kilometres can take several tortuous hours. The roads are simply not geared for a population of 12 million people living in an area covering just 638 km2.

Vision: Economic epicentre of Southeast Asia

The Philippine government’s vision is clear: In the coming decades the Philippines should become an economic epicentre of Southeast Asia. To reach this goal, Manila needs a much better infrastructure.

A multidisciplinary team of experts from Ramboll’s Aviation team, Port Department and Transportation Planning and Urban Development Department have already conducted the feasibility studies: 

“Manila is so densely populated that expanding its ports or airports is impossible. The solution is to build new facilities on reclaimed land in Manila Bay, and with the airport and seaport connected with Manila Metro, the city centre will be a mere 20-minute ride away,” explains Søren Brøndum, Senior Director, Transport, Ramboll, continuing:

“The transport plan relates to every important aspect of city life, and the challenge is perfect for Ramboll, because our multidimensional transport and planning expertise can be fully exploited and provide a total solution for all modes of transport and urban planning.”

From 35 to 70 million passengers in less than ten years  

The aim is to develop a new airport that can compete with the leading Asian hubs. According to plans, the airport will be able to handle up to 70 million passengers in 2022 – double the capacity of the existing airport. In 2032 its capacity will reach 90 million.

The planned seaport will be located next to the airport and supplement Manila’s existing ports. The port masterplan also leaves room to further develop the seaport with container and liquid bulk transhipment activities, and the plan aims to accommodate the very large vessels expected in future.


Urban development in the “old” airport

Between the airport and seaport a third island will be developed for logistic and commercial facilities to be integrated with the other two islands’ traffic infrastructure and with existing production areas south of Manila. 

Finally, the relocation of the airport in Manila Bay will make the vast area where the current airport is located available for urban development. Ramboll has presented an initial spatial plan for developing this land, including commercial, residential, recreational and logistic areas. Thus, the idea of relocating the airport involves not only improving and enlarging the city’s airport facilities, but also freeing up some much needed land in central Manila.


Kurt Bech
Kurt Bech
Market Director, Aviation
T+45 5161 6846