Iloilo Airport expansion will cost P14.7 billion

Iloilo airport of international standards in Cabatuan town. (Rjay Zuriaga Castor photo)

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor and Mariela Angella Oladive

The proposed project cost to rehabilitate and expand the facilities of the Iloilo International Airport in Cabatuan town is pegged at P14.7 billion, based on a report from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

The report was relayed by Iloilo Governor Arthur R. Defensor, Jr. in a press conference on Thursday, June 20.

Defensor recently met with officials from the Department of Transportation to follow updates on the province’s Local Public Transport Route Plan and the proposed expansion of the Iloilo International Airport.

In the CAAP report, the unsolicited proposal (USP) on the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) for the airport will be under an operate-add-transfer contract agreement.

The contract includes the rehabilitation, operation, maintenance, and expansion of the Iloilo Airport.

Under an operate-add-transfer contract, the private sector adds to an existing facility and operates an expanded project for an agreed franchise period.

Meanwhile, the government collects rental payments under agreed terms and schedule and regains control at the end of the lease term.

The proposed concession period for the PPP is 25 years.

The PPP will cover the operation and maintenance of the airport including the passenger terminal building (PTB) and its equipment and facilities, as well as both airside and landside facilities.

It also involves increasing capacity and expanding the airport through renovation and construction of a new PTB.

It can be noted that Prime Asset Ventures Incorporated (PAVI), a subsidiary of the Villar Group of Companies, was the first to submit a USP on the PPP for the airport’s expansion.

PAVI’s USP, submitted in 2019, is valued at P6.89 billion. Its unsolicited bid to operate, maintain, and expand the Iloilo Airport was given the original proponent status by the DOTr.

In April 2023, Aboitiz InfraCapital Inc. of the Aboitiz Group also submitted a USP to take on the redevelopment, valued at P9.95 billion.

Pending the approval of the USP, CAAP-6 recently said that several facility upgrades will be made for the airport this year from the P190 million budget from the national government’s 2024 Aviation Transport Infrastructure Program.

The budget will be used to replace various facilities, including the two existing escalators, the elevator, the flight information display system, the fire detection and alarm system, and the gang chairs.

RETURN OF INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS

The Department of Tourism (DOT) Western Visayas has indicated that the return of international flights to Iloilo Airport is contingent upon passenger demand, according to Regional Director Crisanta Marlene Rodriguez.

Rodriguez emphasized that while efforts are underway to reinstate direct flights from Hong Kong and Singapore, as well as other international destinations, sufficient passenger interest is important.

She highlighted ongoing coordination meetings with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and efforts to communicate the requests of local government units (LGUs) to the DOT Central Office.

“We also want to bring back the flights, in fact not just Hong Kong and Singapore, but also flights from other countries directly to our province…However, there has to be demand from the other side as well,” she said during a press conference on June 19.

“After all, this is still a business for airlines. If we cannot fill our spaces in the planes, of course, it will also not be very feasible for them. So we’re trying to work that out but we hope to be able to get demand from the other side, not only the demand of Filipinos who need to travel but also demand from those coming from the other countries as well,” she explained.

Meanwhile, the director remains optimistic and underscored the DOT’s tourism program aimed at increasing visitor numbers.

Central to this effort is leveraging Iloilo City’s prestigious status as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, which she believes appeals not only to markets in Singapore and Hong Kong but also to other global tourists.

Furthermore, the DOT is focusing on promoting emerging destinations with potential, such as Guimaras, to attract tourists interested in exploring coastal attractions beyond Boracay.

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