Following the current upgrade of the Mactan Cenu International Airport, another group from Cebu seeks to modernize 4 airports in the Visayas and Mindanao in a bid to take part in the government’s infrastructure program and a capitalize on increasing tourist arrivals and growth in key regions to help decongest the country’s main gateways in Manila.
Aboitiz InfraCapital, the infrastructure business unit of the Aboitiz Group, submitted today an unsolicited proposal to upgrade, expand, operate, and maintain four major Philippine regional airports over a 35-year concession period.
The four regional gateways – Iloilo International Airport, Bacolod-Silay Airport, Laguindingan Airport, and New Bohol International Airport in Panglao – are key entry points into Visayas and northern Mindanao.
The first three are already operating above capacity and require urgent rehabilitation, while New Bohol is eyed to open the island further to the international tourism market as part of the national tourism strategy. This move will also decongest Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
These regions have been experiencing tremendous growth in the last few years and the airports have struggled to follow the pace of the development. Iloilo and Bacolod airports have been operating for 10 years, while Laguindingan started operating in 2013 but has been operating above its capacity since its opening year.
"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," said Aboitiz InfraCapital CEO and President Sabin Aboitiz.
The Php148-billion multi-phased project aims to transform the facilities into world-class airports every Filipino deserves and can be proud of.
The government earlier identified the regional airports modernization as a critical infrastructure project and launched a tender for a public-private partnership for five airports under the Build-Operate-Transfer Law in 2014, but this plan was canceled in 2017.
Aboitiz said that the pooling of resources to develop, operate and maintain all four airports is required in order to unlock synergies that would benefit all stakeholders, including the government. “Not only will none of the airports require any form of subsidy, the combined potential of the four regional gateways results in overall gains for both the government and the local economy.”
Swift implementation is key to ensuring that the airports continue to serve as a platform for sustained regional development. The approach proposed by the Aboitiz Group can assist the government in delivering the upgraded infrastructure in the shortest possible time and in the most efficient way.
If an award materializes within the year, Aboitiz InfraCapital said it could start working with the relevant government and community stakeholders to improve operations and passenger experience in 2019, and the necessary major upgrades and capacity expansions could be completed as early as 2021.