Airline owners remain banned from Mactan-Cebu airport bidding

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01:12 AM January 16th, 2013

By: Paolo G. Montecillo, January 16th, 2013 01:12 AM

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is standing firm on its decision to bar companies with airline interests from bidding for the multibillion-peso contract to develop the country’s second-largest commercial airport.

In a briefing on Tuesday, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the rule disqualifying airline groups from the Mactan-Cebu International Airport project aimed to eliminate all possible conflicts of interest.

The exclusion of companies with investments in airlines significantly narrowed the field of bidders capable—financially and technically—of taking on the P16-billion project.

“It’s the first time we are doing this and it’s a learning process. We want to dwell on the conservative side to eliminate all forms of conflict of interest,” Abaya told reporters.

The rule automatically disqualifies San Miguel Corp., which has a stake and manages flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL), and JG Summit Holdings, owner of budget carrier Cebu Pacific, from the project.

Apart from controlling PAL, San Miguel, through unit TransAire Development Holdings Corp., operates the Godofredo P. Ramos airport in Caticlan, the country’s gateway to tourist hotspot Boracay Island. Both conglomerates had earlier expressed interest in the Mactan-Cebu Airport project.

The remaining groups that have signified their intention to bid for the project are the partnership between Ayala Corp. and the Cebu-based Aboitiz Equity Ventures and the Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Investments Corp.

The existing Mactan Cebu International Airport is the country’s second-biggest air passenger facility. In 2011, the airport handled more than 4.74 million domestic passengers and 1.47 million international travelers. Passenger numbers grew at the facility at a compounded annual rate of 14.47 percent for domestic traffic and 11.02 percent for international traffic over the last five years.

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