Ayala, MPIC eye Bohol, Puerto airports

By Zinnia B. Dela Peña, The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 18 2013 07:24 AM | Updated as of Feb 18 2013 06:52 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Top business groups Ayala Corp. and Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) are separately looking at the Bohol and Puerto Princesa airport development projects as potential bid targets.

Eric T. Francia, managing director and group head for corporate strategy and development of Ayala, said the conglomerate is keen on other airport management contracts to spur faster growth as it hopes to capitalize on a booming local economy.

“We will consider but we still have to study it,” Francia said in a text message.

Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. president Ramon Fernandez said the group is also on the lookout for other interesting opportunities in airport infrastructure to further expand its investment portfolio.

“We will look at those small ones if bidded,” Fernandez said in a mobile phone message.

The Panglao Airport in Bohol and Puerto Princesa airport in Palawan will be bid out this year under the government’s Public-Private Partnership program for infrastructure.

The government wants to speed up the refurbishment of old airports due to the rapidly-growing popularity of tourist destinations such as Palawan, Mactan and Tacloban.

President Aquino committed to complete the rehabilitation of the 223-hectare Bohol airport before the end of his term. Construction is expected to start in November.

Earlier reports said air traffic in Bohol has risen more than 30 percent annually to 573,000 in 2010 from 198,000 passengers in 2005. It is forecast to grow to almost one million yearly.

The P4.3-billion Puerto Princesa project, on the other hand, involves the construction of new landside facilities in the north western side of the existing runway such as passenger terminal building, control tower, administration and operation building, cargo terminal building, rescue and fire fighting building and other support facilities. It aims to revitalize the transport and trade linkages under the Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

MPIC and Ayala are seen to go against other large groups including conglomerate San Miguel Corp., which has expressed interest in at least four airport projects identified under the PPP program.

Ayala, MPIC and San Miguel are also vying for the rehabilitation of the P17-billion Mactan terminal in Cebu.

New airports are needed since the government has prioritized boosting tourism, which is seen as an engine for economic growth and development. The Aquino Administration aims to generate 10 million tourists by 2016.