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Aboitiz ‘ready’ to resume talks for airport bids

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Despite the challenges faced by the aviation industry due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the infrastructure arm of conglomerate Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc. is opening its table anew for discussions with the government for its billion-peso airport bids.

As part of its recovery plan, Aboitiz InfraCapital Inc. (AIC) on Wednesday said it is ready to help the government fill in any gaps that the reallocation from infrastructure projects has created amid the ongoing health crisis.

Cosette Canilao, AIC president and CEO, said they remain keen on the airport projects vital in reviving the economy, noting that there might be some minor changes depending on how much the virus has affected their proposals.

“Increasing infrastructure spending, whether funded by the government or private sector, will play a significant role in helping rebuild our economy. We stand ready to support the government by investing in the development of key infrastructure projects,” Canilao said.

AIC has submitted to the government unsolicited proposals to operate and maintain the Bohol-Panglao International Airport and Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental.

The company is also part of the consortium that would handle the P102-billion rehabilitation project to decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

The company previously said these proposals were meant to result in efficient passenger flow and reduced congestion at the terminals, better retail and dining experiences and increased flight destinations.

But the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on the domestic aviation industry, affecting not only airlines but also airport projects.

To recall, airport development has long been on the radar of the Aboitiz Group, which has businesses in power generation, property development, banking, and food.

For AIC’s common tower project, discussions with partners Globe Telecom, Smart Telecom, and Dito Telecommunity on the first batch of towers are still ongoing.

“The current crisis has clearly proven the urgent need for digital infrastructure to support better telecommunication services, and the Aboitiz Group is ready to provide this through our common tower project,” said Canilao.

On-the-ground activities such as site surveys and site acquisitions are also expected to resume once strict community quarantine orders are lifted.

AIC likewise said it is ready to revisit its 2018 unsolicited proposal along with the Ayala Group and Unisys for a National Identification Card (ID) system. This came as the urgent need for a National ID system became even more apparent under the present conditions to boost COVID-19 aid distribution.

For Apo Agua, the Aboitiz Group’s bulk water supply project with the Davao City Water District, regular meetings are being conducted to assess and mitigate COVID-19’s full impact on the project timeline.

Moving forward, Aboitiz vowed to support the Duterte administration’s infrastructure programs as key measure to boost economic recovery.

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