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Aboitiz, CLC keen on regional airports

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By Patrizia Paola C. Marcelo,
Reporter

ABOITIZ INFRACAPITAL, Inc, (AIC) and Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp. (CLC) remain interested in upgrading several regional airports, even after the Department of Transportation (DoTr) rejected the companies’ respective unsolicited proposals.

However, the two companies are awaiting the details of the planned public bidding for the operations and maintenance (O&M) contracts for several regional airports, before making a final decision on their participation.

CLC President and CEO Chryss Alfonsus V. Damuy said the company is looking at joining the bidding for the airport projects.

“We are seriously looking at it, it would be a waste if we did not consider as we have already done a study,” Mr. Damuy told BusinessWorld in a phone interview.

Davao businessman Dennis A. Uy’s CLC submitted last February a P67-billion proposal to expand and operate Davao and New Bohol with a 30-year concession.

Aboitiz Equity Ventures (AEV), whose AIC submitted last March a P148-billion proposal to expand and operate the airports in Iloilo, Bacolod, Laguindingan and New Bohol, told the stock exchange it “remains committed” to the government’s infrastructure programs.

“We will definitely have a look but will make our final decision based on the actual terms once they are available,” Iara B. Arcilla, Aboitiz InfraCapital manager and spokesperson for its regional airport projects, said in a mobile phone message.

The Department of Transportation (DoTr) has adopted the policy of bidding out the operations, maintenance, improvement and expansion of all airports under its jurisdiction, and rejected the unsolicited proposals submitted by AIC and CLC.

Transportation Undersecretary for Aviation Manuel Antonio L. Tamayo said the DoTr is looking to start the bidding process next month, and targeting to award the O&M contract for New Bohol airport before it opens in August.

In a phone interview with BusinessWorld, he said the terms of reference for New Bohol airport would be the “model” for the bidding for the other four airports.

He expressed confidence the bidding for the rest of the regional airports will be completed “hopefully, within the year.”

“We are still working on the documents for Bohol, and the documents will be the model for the bidding of the other airports,” Mr. Tamayo said.

The previous government under Benigno S. C. Aquino III in 2014 had previously bundled five regional airports under a single public private partnership (PPP) project, but the bidding did not push through.

Under President Rodrigo R. Duterte, the government removed the projects from the PPP pipeline in favor of funding the construction via government appropriations or overseas development assistance, and then bidding out the O&M contract to the private sector.