BusinessWorld, 09 September 2012
By Franz G. De La Fuente
CONGLOMERATES Ayala Corp. and Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. are planning a joint-venture firm that will bid for the development of a new Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) terminal.
Last Friday, both announced the signing of memorandum of agreement on a 50-50 joint venture that will submit a proposal for the MCIA project, which the government plans to offer under its public-private partnership (PPP) program.
“Both parties will enter into a definitive agreement once the bid rules or the terms of reference for the project have been finalized and published by the government, and will likewise explore partnerships with experienced global airport operators to complete its consortium,” they said in a statement.
The MCIA project — which involves the construction of a new passenger terminal and includes an operation and maintenance contract for the entire airport — is one of the PPP projects to be implemented by the Transportation department.
The P10.15-billion project, which is expected to increase the airportâ€™s capacity to roughly eight million passengers yearly compared to the current average of a little over five million, is still to be formally rolled out.
In Cebu, MCIA general manager Nigel Paul C. Villarete said other groups had also expressed interest in the airportâ€™s expansion. A new terminal is crucial since the number of passengers using the airport is expected to grow to seven million this year, he added.
The projectâ€™s PPP structure is still being finalized but an auction could be staged before the end of the year, Mr. Villarete said. Construction could start by the end of 2013 or early 2014.
The MCIA, which sits on a 747-hectare property in Lapu-Lapu City, currently has a combined domestic and international operations area of 38,525.39 square meters. It handled a total of 4.03 million passengers as of July this year, up from 3.66 million passengers a year earlier, as well as 29.97 million kilograms (kg) of cargo in the first half, 4% higher than last yearâ€™s 28.76 million kg.
An analyst noted that the partnership would strengthen both firmsâ€™ interests in two fast-growing sectors: PPPs and Cebu.
“The establishment of a new and modern international airport in that region would greatly enhance [the companiesâ€™] assets in the Cebu and Visayas regions,” said Jose Mari B. Lacson, research head at Campos Lanuza & Co., Inc.
Ayala and Aboitiz Equity are already well-established in Cebu: Aboitiz Equity is a Cebu-based firm while Ayala currently holds a land bank of nearly 200 hectares in Cebu City.
Ayala was the first firm to bag a PPP project, last December being awarded the contract for the P1.96-billion Daang Hari-South Luzon Expressway.
Ayala shares rose to P421.00 last Friday from P416.00 at its previous close, while those of Aboitiz Equity climbed to P48.00 from P47.50. –Â withÂ Marlen D. LimpagÂ in Cebu