The private sector is now turning to provincial airport opportunities around the country after a slew of offers focused on Manila’s main gateway—the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia)—had emerged.
Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc., which also joined the “super consortium” of seven conglomerates seeking to operate and upgrade Naia, made an unsolicited offer on Wednesday for four regional gateways: Iloilo International Airport, Bacolod-Silay Airport, Laguindingan Airport and New Bohol International Airport in Panglao.
AEV, through infrastructure subsidiary Aboitiz InfraCapital, wants to upgrade, expand and operate these airports, several of which are gateways to popular tourist destinations and are operating above capacity.
The group offered to spend P148 billion and sought a 35-year concession.
With AEV, the Duterte administration has since collected a total of five active unsolicited airport offers valued at more than P1.9 trillion. The proposals were mainly in response to the lack of public private partnership (PPP) projects offered by the government, coupled with its vague airport policy.
The regional airports were once part of the PPP program, although these were not bid out given the government transition in 2016.
The airports were later removed from the pipeline as the current administration considered overseas development assistance (ODA) loans as a funding source. The projects, which were previously studied, are being reviewed anew, the Department of Transportation said earlier.
AEV was among those that prequalified in the original regional airports PPP project.
For its current bid, AEV noted that its airport approach considered “the least environmental impact” and technologies to improve passenger experience. It did not name its technical partner.
AEV said that Iloilo, Bacolod-Silay and Laguindingan were also already operating above capacity and required “urgent rehabilitation.” It added that operations and passenger experience could be improved within a year while capacity expansion would take around three years.
“Through this unsolicited proposal, we intend to support the government’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ program as we develop sustainable airport facilities that reflect and support the tremendous economic and tourism potential of the Philippines’ regions and provinces,” Aboitiz InfraCapital CEO and president Sabin Aboitiz said in the statement.
He added that the offer did not include any subsidies— a requirement implemented early on by the DOTr.
Since this is an unsolicited proposal, it would need to undergo a Swiss challenge, assuming it is accepted and approved by the government. A Swiss challenge allows other groups to submit better offers. However, the rules grant the original proponent, in this case Aboitiz InfraCapital, the right to match and bag the deal.
Over the last three weeks, two unsolicited offers for Naia were made and one for Sangley, Cavite. The previous year, San Miguel Corp. submitted an offer for a new international airport in Bulacan province.
The Duterte administration, meanwhile, is currently expanding the Clark International Airport in Pampanga province, another potential international gateway.
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