THE Aboitiz Group submitted Wednesday, March 7, an unsolicited proposal to operate, maintain, expand and upgrade four key regional airports in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Its infrastructure business unit, Aboitiz InfraCapital (AIC), is proposing to transform the Iloilo International Airport in Panay, Bacolod-Silay Airport in Negros Occidental, Laguindingan Airport in Cagayan de Oro, and New Bohol International Airport in Panglao into world-class airports for P148 billion over a 35-year concession period.
If awarded the project this year, the company said it could start work on the project by 2019 and deliver expanded and upgraded facilities by 2021.
Sabin Aboitiz, president and CEO (chief executive officer) of AIC, said in a statement that upgrading of these airports would help decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila.
He said they will be guided by the "green airports" concept.
"Our approach is driven by innovation such as the ‘green airports’ concept where these gateways will be planned, implemented and operated with the least environmental impact utilizing a bespoke planning program, as well as the ‘connected airports’ concept where technology will be leveraged to enhance passenger experience," he said.
Of the four regional airports, New Bohol has yet to be completed. The other three are already operating above capacity and require urgent rehabilitation, Aboitiz said.
"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," he added.
The government had identified the regional airports modernization project 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.
The project, however, was canceled in 2017.
"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 said.
“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,” he added.
AIC undertakes all of the infrastructure and infrastructure-related investments of the Aboitiz Group. (Marites Villamor-Ilano/SunStar Philippines)