DOTR Seeks Caticlan Expansion

Operator Wants Gateway Status

3 January 2018

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is seeking to transform Caticlan Airport to international gateway by proposing to change the design parameters of the airport project awarded in 2008.

The Transport agency has already send the recommendation to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) for approval at the interagency Investment Coordination Committee (ICC).

Changes include expansion of airside and landside components, which has shown to be thorny and controversial issues in the past.

Among the airside issues that hound the project includes leveling the hill at the airport’s eastern side and the extension of the runaway to the sea, and the opposition by some stakeholders on the conversion of the airport from domestic to an international facility because it involves land reclamation to accommodate 500 meters more of the existing runway as originally planned.

As for the landside the project calls for the expansion of passenger terminal building (PTB) from the present 3 million passenger per annum (MPPA) to at least 6 MPPA by 2033.

DOTr proposal could increase Caticlan Airport project cost by as much as 300 percent from the original approved cost of ₱2.5 billion ($58 million) in 2008 to as much as ₱10 billion.

Caticlan International Airport Development Corp. (CIADC) bagged the right to modernize Caticlan airport under a 25-year concession agreement with the government in 2009 after the Neda approved the unsolicited Build-Rehabilitate-Operate-Transfer proposal for the Caticlan Airport Development Project in 2008 after its unsolicited proposal in 2006 was unchallenged by bidders.

San Miguel Corporation (SMC) bought controlling interest (51%) from CIADC in 2010 and established Transaire Development Holdings Corporation (TransAire) as the airport operator until 2034. Full airport administration was handed to TransAire in 2011.

TransAire holds the exclusive rights, obligations and privileges to finance, design, construct, operate and maintain the airport by virtue of a concession agreement with the DOTr and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

The airport operator however took five years after winning the contract in 2009 to start major construction works after series of obstacles went its way from environmental compliance to uncooperative land owners. They are cleared to construct 1,600 meter of runway as a compromise from local and environmental groups. The original runway design of 2,100 meters was discarded.

Boracay airport as it is fondly known is limited to cater domestic traffic by its Aerodrome Certificate, with international gateway being re-directed to nearby Kalibo International Airport in Kalibo, Aklan.

SMC has been very vocal of expanding the airport’s runway from the former 950 meters to the current 1,600 meters to the now proposed 2,100 meter runway, and if allowed further, to construct up to 2,500 meters runway to accommodate more foreign carriers and larger aircraft.

SMC president Ramon S. Ang said they are building 3 MPPA PTB terminal slated for opening by October this year with expansion potential to 6 MPPA.

“We saw the potential to add more capacity from foreign tourist arrivals and its not possible from the current set-up” Ang said last year.

Ang stated that they propose to build only 2 MPPA terminal and 6 apron bays at first but revised the plan to accommodate growth in the future.The airport now can hold up to 12 apron bays for as big as A321 aircraft up-gradable to contact bridges in the future.

According to San Miguel Corporation, the airport facility is being developed with international operations in mind but is currently being hampered by limitations imposed on its contract.

Ang said the company is prepared to spend as much as ₱15 billion ($300 million) to upgrade the airport further if the restriction is removed.

SMC was originally given seven years or until 2016 to complete both the airside (runway, apron and Taxiway, navaids) and landside (PTB and parking) developments from project award but has since been extended by the government due to regulatory delays.

Caticlan airport handled 1.2 million passengers in 2017.

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