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MANILA, Philippines – Diversifying conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) is keen on bidding for Public-Private Partnership (PPP) airport contracts in Palawan, Bohol, Caraga, Tacloban and Dipolog, among others, according to a top company official.
“We will bid for all PPP projects,” said SMC president Ramon Ang in a text message, when asked whether the conglome-rate is still interested in participating in the public bidding for other airport projects.
SMC is currently refurbishing and building new tourism facilities at the Godofredo P. Ramos airport in Caticlan, the main gateway to the world-famous Boracay Island. The conglomerate has committed to invest $300 million in this project.
SMC, which co-owns Philippine Airlines with the group of taipan Lucio Tan, last week said the flag carrier is looking to build the biggest airport in the country that could handle 36 flights per hour compared to the overcrowded Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) earlier expected to complete the construction of the new Bohol International Airport located in Panglao by 2015. It wants to start civil works next year with the bidding slated within the year. More than 40 private investors had signified interest in the project.
The privatization of the 223-hectare Bohol airport, together with those in Puerto Princesa in Palawan, Daraga in Albay and Laguindingan in Misamis Oriental, are being prioritized due to growing air passenger traffic in these areas.
Earlier reports said air traffic has grown more than 30 percent annually from 198,000 passengers in 2005 to 573,000 in 2010.
By 2020, Bohol’s air traffic is projected to grow to almost one million passengers annually.
Amid efforts to perk up tourism, the government recently announced plans to bid out the development of the Tacloban and Dipolog airports, with an estimated combined cost of P319 million.
About P251.6 million will go to the construction of Tacloban airport, which is believed to be the the eighth busiest airport in the country. The balance of P66.9 million will go to the Dipolog airport.
The government has also announced plans to bid out the construction of a new airport in San Vicente, Palawan.
SMC has spent at least $3 billion since 2007 for its aggressive diversification into faster-growing sectors such as energy, telecoms, mining, banking, infrastructure and airlines.
The group, the dominant food and drinks maker for decades, also expanded its regional reach with the $577-million purchase of Esso Malaysia Bhd last year.