Private groups still keen on airport projects
Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) - June 22, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Private groups, which have set their sights on operating and expanding various provincial airports in the country, remain steadfast despite the aviation industry’s uncertain prospects.

Prior to the onslaught of the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 pandemic, various groups swamped the government with their respective unsolicited proposals to operate, maintain, and expand some of the country’s provincial air gateways given their booming potential for traffic and tourism growth

Leading the pack was Aboitiz InfraCapital Inc. which submitted unsolicited offers for the Bohol-Panglao International Airport, Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental, and Bicol International Airport.

Dennis Uy’s Chelsea Logistics and Infrastructure Holdings Corp. and Udenna Infrastructure Corp. also gave unsolicited proposals for the Davao International Airport, Bacolod-Silay Airport and the Busuanga Airport.

Prime Asset Ventures Inc. of the Villar Group, meanwhile, submitted an offer for the Puerto Princesa Airport and Iloilo International Airport.

Other unsolicited proposals made were those from Mega7 Construction Corp. and the Philippine Airport Ground Support Solutions Inc. for the Kalibo International Airport and Siargao Airport in Surigao del Norte, respectively.

None of these proponents, however, have expressed intent so far to back out of their proposals amid the developments in the aviation industry brought about by the outbreak.

“We have not received any withdrawal yet,” Transportation Undersecretary for planning Ruben Reinoso told The STAR.

In fact, companies like the Aboitiz Group and Chelsea said the pandemic have not changed their strategies in pursuing their respective airport proposals.

Aboitiz InfraCapital president and chief executive officer Cosette Canilao earlier told The STAR airports are vital infrastructure projects that the country needs and that these would play a huge role in reviving the economy.

Chelsea president and CEO Chryss Alfonsus Damuy, for his part, said airports would serve as a very necessary support for the country’s economic recovery.

While much has been reported about the impact of COVID-19 on airlines, airports have been hit severely as well.

The International Finance Corp. (IFC) said airports’ performance would continue to be affected by the lower-than-expected GDP growth around the globe after COVID-19, noting that these gateways are likely to see structural changes in demand from the economic crisis that will follow the outbreak.

IFC said potential airline bankruptcies also present a major risk for airports, especially to those that serve as hubs to struggling airlines.

“COVID-19 has had an immediate, dramatic impact on airport traffic and revenue. The economic crisis that will follow the pandemic will continue to drive lower demand for air travel in the immediate aftermath,” the IFC said.

At present, a number of airports in the country have yet to open following their closure due to the outbreak.

As of June 19, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said 26 airports have been given local government clearance to resume commercial flights.

Of the 23 which are still closed, four are set to open on July 1, while two will open in August and September.

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