NOTE: THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE BOHOL CHRONICLE’S SUNDAY PRINT EDITION.
The Aboitiz Group was accepted, in principle, of their budget to operate the Bohol Panglao International Airport (BPIA) by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) last Friday.
Former NEDA Secretary Ernesto Pernia relayed the information to the Chronicle after NEDA issued a press statement confirming the green light to upgrade the airport.
The airport construction which was done during the term of Pernia at the NEDA has become the subject of concern by the Boholanos for fear of deterioration unless handled by a private operator.
The former NEDA official welcomed the development which was delayed due to bureaucratic red tape during the term of then Pres. Rodrigo Duterte. However, he did not elaborate.
He said the unsolicited offer of Aboitiz was accepted by NEDA during their board meeting last Friday which signals the commencement of a Public Private Partnership (PPP).
The amount of P4.5 billion will be utilized for the upgrading, operations and maintenance of the airport which is in need of much improvement as well as the basic requirements to run an international airport.
In a press conference in Malacañang, NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said NEDA Board approved P4.5 billion for the Bohol airport under a PPP where Aboitiz will provide the necessary cost in implementing the works which are presently being handled by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).
This unsolicited PPP project aims to increase the passenger capacity and improve the passenger experience at the Bohol-Panglao International Airport.
Currently, Bohol’s international airport is designed to support 2 million passengers per year. With the approved expansion project, the maximum passenger throughout will be increased to 2.5 million passengers per year at project start and is expected to increase to 3.9 million by the end of the project.
Presently, the airport accommodates 108 flights weekly, 87 domestic and 21 international, according to BPIA Manager Poggs Ybañez
The domestic flights of Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and AirAsia fly to Manila and Davao while the international flights of Jeju Air and Busan Air fly directly from Incheon, Korea.
The project will definitely boost tourism and, as a result, generate more high-quality jobs.
A check made with the Aboitiz Group revealed it was estimated that their formal takeover of the airport could be in January or February next year.
“Hoping we can deliver on what the Boholanos expect and deserve,” a top honcho of the Aboitiz Group said in a text message to the Chronicle last night.
Pernia said it is encouraging to note that there will be funding for the upgrading and operation of the airport which was constructed during his watch at the NEDA at a cost of P7-8 billion.
The NEDA Board, during Pernia’s term, approved the budget for the additional second floor of the existing air terminal as well as for the extension of the runway for future demands.
The airport was funded through the Official Development Assistance (ODA) which receives assistance from various countries like Japan whose interest was pegged at less than one percent, Pernia recalled.