Philippines: large business groups offer to operate regional airports

Big business groups, including those led by businessman Dennis A. Uy and the Aboitiz family, are again seeking to operate and develop select provincial airports that were once part of the public-private partnership (PPP) pipeline.
This came after the Department of Transportation (DOTr) rejected earlier offers seeking to operate and develop multiple airports in one go.
Interested groups were told the DOTr would now only entertain offers for individual air gateways, said Manuel Antonio L. Tamayo, DOTr undersecretary for aviation.

He said Uy’s Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp. submitted an offer for the Davao International Airport, the country’s third busiest air gateway, while a unit of Aboitiz Equity Ventures submitted an unsolicited proposal for the New Bohol International Airport in Panglao, opening this August.
Ruben Reinoso, DOTr undersecretary for planning, also noted a group called “Mega Seven” submitted a separate unsolicited offer for the Kalibo International Airport, one of two gateways to Boracay Island.
“These are being evaluated,” Tamayo said.
As noted, the DOTr had earlier rejected separate offers from Chelsea and Aboitiz.
Last February 5, Uy-led Chelsea Logistics submitted a P67-billion offer to expand and operate Davao, the country’s largest gateway after Manila and Cebu, and New Bohol via a 30-year concession.
On March 7, Aboitiz InfraCapital offered to expand and operate the airports in Iloilo, Bacolod, Laguindingan and New Bohol. Its offer involved a P148-billion investment and a 35-year concession.

“We don’t like to bundle. Many of these airports like Panglao and Davao can stand on their own. They are financially viable,” Tamayo said.
Davao, for example, handles between three to four million passengers per year versus its capacity of two million passengers annually.

The Aquino administration initially packaged the regional airports in bundles. Its rationale was to entice private sector investments in less viable airports since these would be offset by airports with better business prospects.
Tamayo said they would also separately bid out airports in Iloilo, Bacolod and Laguindingan, which currently have no offers.


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