DOTr rejects Aboitiz's P148-billion bid to upgrade 4 regional airports

MANILA, Philippines – The government rejected the P148-billion unsolicited proposal of Aboitiz Equity Ventures (AEV) to upgrade and operate 4 regional airports, instead choosing public bidding.

AEV's wholly-owned subsidiary Aboitiz InfraCapital Incorporated (AIC) "has received an official response from the Department of Transportation (DOTr) stating that [it] has adopted a policy to publicly solicit bids for the operations, maintenance, improvement, and expansion of all airports under its jurisdiction, and therefore cannot accept the proposal."

AEV relayed this in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) on Tuesday, April 10.

"While AIC believes its proposal is a very efficient solution to address the immediate need of the airports in the most expedient and comprehensive way, we understand the DOTr's decision to take a different course," AEV added.

AIC's proposal, announced back in March, was to upgrade and operate 4 regional airports over a 35-year concession period – the Iloilo International Airport, Bacolod-Silay Airport, Laguindingan Airport, and New Bohol International Airport.

These 4 regional airports, along with the Davao International Airport, were originally supposed to be auctioned off via the public-private partnership (PPP) scheme.

The DOTr, however, canceled the planned auction in 2017 in favor of using either Official Development Assistance (ODA) or the national budget. (READ: 5 regional airports removed from PPP pipeline)

Late last year, the DOTr announced plans for new feasibility studies for the regional airports with an eye on bidding out their operations and maintenance to private firms.

AEV said in its disclosure that "AIC remains committed to supporting the Philippine government in its efforts to advance infrastructure within the country, particularly in the aviation sector."

"We look forward to receiving the final details of the upcoming tender and will continue supporting the development of the regional airports," it added.

AIC is also one of the firms involved in the P350-billion unsolicited proposal of a "super consortium" to upgrade and operate the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the country's main gateway. – Rappler.com