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Caticlan runway set for upgrade

SMC to invest $300M for new facilities

 (Philippine Daily Inquirer / Miguel R. Camus) Conglomerate San Miguel Corp. said it would complete the extension of Boracay Airport’s runway by the end of the year, allowing the tourist hotspot’s nearest aviation gateway to accommodate large international flights.

The runway extension, from the current 950 meters to 2,100 meters, is a key component of Boracay Airport’s upgrade, which San Miguel president Ramon Ang said would require about $300 million in investments.

The investment would also include a new terminal, equipment and nearby commercial facilities.

“The runway will be done by the end of 2014,” Ang said in a text message. Boracay Airport, also known as the Godofredo P. Ramos Airport, is the Philippines’s seventh-busiest airport. It is the nearest of two air gateways to Boracay Island, where visitor arrivals hit over one million last year.

Boracay Airport served 538,800 passengers in 2009, its website showed, but this figure could go up to about 3 million in 2015 once expansion facilities are in place.

The airport is currently managed by TransAire Development Holdings Corp., a subsidiary of San Miguel.

Caticlan Airport in Boracay, Philippines (PHOTO) Panoramio.com
Developing airports is a key part of the conglomerate’s strategy to increase its tourism industry footprint. Ang said San Miguel was keen on other airport deals, including the government’s plan to bundle together the operations and maintenance contracts for airports in Davao, Iloilo and Bacolod under its public-private partnership program. Taken together, airports in Davao, Bacolod and Iloilo handled about 5.5 million passengers in 2011, government statistics showed.

The figure puts their combined traffic close to that of Mactan-Cebu International Airport, the country’s second-busiest.

San Miguel, in partnership with South Korea’s Incheon Airport, also submitted an offer for the Mactan-Cebu Airport, structured via a P17.5-billion PPP deal, but was outbid by a consortium led by Megawide Construction Corp. and India’s GMR Infrastructure.

San Miguel, a major food and beverage firm, has diversified into the infrastructure and energy spheres in an effort to tap higher returns.

Apart from its flagship brewery and food businesses, its assets today include tollroads like South Luzon Expressway and Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway, power plants under  SMC Global Power Holdings  and Petron Corp., the country’s largest oil refiner.

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