airports in the Philippines

After NAIA, Laguindingan Airport modernization coming as Swiss challenge underway

Lance Spencer Yu

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After NAIA, Laguindingan Airport modernization coming as Swiss challenge underway

PRE-PANDEMIC TIMES. The Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental in pre-COVID-19 times.

Froilan Gallardo/Rappler

Laguindingan Airport, a major gateway to Northern Mindanao, is only designed to handle 1.6 million passengers a year. Can a private sector operator give the airport the upgrade that it needs?

MANILA, Philippines – Just days after it named a winning bidder for the Ninoy Aquino International Airport rehabilitation project, the government is busy drumming up interest in the modernization and expansion of another airport: the Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is now inviting bidders from the private sector to submit comparative proposals for the “upgrade, expansion, operations, and maintenance” of the Laguindingan Airport.

In a process called a “Swiss challenge,” these submitted proposals will go head-to-head with the deal offered by Aboitiz InfraCapital, which has original proponent status over the project. A Swiss challenge allows other companies to submit proposals for a project to compete with the one submitted by the original proponent, who will then have the right to present an even better deal.

The modernization of the Laguindingan Airport is one of the infrastructure flagship projects of the government. According to bid documents, the airport developer is expected to do the following over a 30-year concession period:

  • realize the potential of the airport in connecting Northern Mindanao’s five provinces (Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental, Lanao del Norte, Bukidnon, and Camiguin), as well as its two highly urbanized cities (Cagayan de Oro and Iligan)
  • define the aviation strategy for new airlines and new connections, including the development of international flights
  • expand the capacity of the airport according to market demand
  • introduce new concepts of sustainability and connectivity to improve the environmental and operational performance of the airport and enhance passenger experience
  • implement commercial services in the extended terminal and on landside

The National Economic and Development Authority Board approved the negotiated parameters, terms, and conditions for the P12.75-billion Laguindingan Airport project just a month ago in January 2024. Meanwhile, Aboitiz InfraCapital gained original proponent status in 2019 when it submitted a P42.7-billion unsolicited proposal to upgrade, expand, maintain, and operate the airport for 35 years.

Laguindingan Airport is a relatively new airport that started operations in 2013. It handles mostly domestic flights and serves as a major gateway to the Northern Mindanao region. It has a design capacity of about 1.6 million passengers per year. –

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Lance Spencer Yu

Lance Spencer Yu is a multimedia reporter who covers the transportation, tourism, infrastructure, finance, agriculture, and corporate sectors, as well as macroeconomic issues.