Iloilo airport expansion bid awaits NEDA’s nod

Passengers board a plane at the Iloilo International Airport in Cabatuan town. (Rjay Zuriaga Castor photo)

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

The unsolicited proposal of Prime Asset Ventures, Inc. for the expansion of the Iloilo International Airport in Cabatuan town is currently pending with the National Economic and Development Authority, Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. said on Wednesday.

“They are targeting the approval [of the unsolicited proposal by the] first quarter of 2024. That was what the good secretary told us. Ang atun nga gusto, we want to lobby to make it faster,” said Defensor in his regular press conference.

On September 29, Defensor visited the office of Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime Bautista to ask for updates on the proposed expansion of the Iloilo airport. He was joined by third district representative Lorenz Defensor and Uswag Ilonggo Partylist Representative Jojo Ang.

“We were there to push for the expansion of the terminal of our Iloilo International Airport. We are there to urge the government to expedite the process,” Defensor said.

The visit comes after Defensor stressed that the airport can no longer accommodate the increasing demand from passengers, aircraft, and cargo, especially with the rapid development in the city and province of Iloilo.

The governor added that since Iloilo is identified as a MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions) destination, the problem is “very practical” citing that the congestion in the airport is about to reach pre-pandemic levels.

The expansion of the airport will be through a public-private partnership under the unsolicited proposal of Prime Asset Ventures, Inc. which is valued at P6.89 billion.

PAVI’s proposal has already lapsed from the DOTr and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and is currently under the Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) of the NEDA for evaluation.

The ICC will evaluate the fiscal, monetary, and balance of payments implications of the expansion of the airport. After the ICC’s evaluation, the proposal will then be forwarded to the NEDA board, which is chaired by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

As of the September evaluation, Defensor said the DOTr has directed PAVI to resubmit its proposals based on the new Build-Operate-Transfer law implementing rules and regulations and the 2022 Investment Coordination Committee Guidelines and Checklists in processing PPP projects.

Defensor said he will also seek assistance from Special Assistant to the President Secretary Antonio Ernesto Lagdameo Jr. to expedite the processing of the expansion.

It is worth noting that Aboitiz InfraCapital Inc. (AIC) – the infrastructure arm of the Aboitiz Group also submitted its unsolicited proposals in April 2023. AIC’s proposal is to upgrade, operate, and maintain the Iloilo airport for P9.95 billion under a concession period of 35 years.

The proposed expansion of the Iloilo Airport covers the upgrade of the passenger terminal building, construction of an apron adjacent to the PTB, installation of the required equipment for the passenger services, and modernization of the appurtenant facilities.

Defensor said he will also seek the assistance of the Office of the Special Assistant to the President to expedite the development of the expansion.

Defensor said he has not discussed with the DOTr the resumption of international flights in Iloilo. He, however, disclosed that the DOTr shared that commercial airlines in the country are facing challenges in operating international flights because they are experiencing a shortage of spare parts for their airplanes.