Airport investment to remain strong next year

Airport investment to remain strong next year

The newly opened Mactan-Cebu International Airport Terminal 2 offers a unique airport-resort experience. — MAYA PADILLO

FITCH RATINGS expects capital investment in airports in the Asia-Pacific region to remain strong in the coming year, owing to the “long-term horizon” for airport business plans that will extend beyond the pandemic.

Airports in the region took decisive steps to maintain financial flexibility by cutting costs during the global health crisis, it said.

“Many airports across major and fast-developing aviation markets such as Australia, China, Japan, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam are continuing with their capex (capital expenditure) plans, given the long-term horizon that goes well beyond the potential duration of the crisis,” the ratings agency said in its 2022 outlook for the industry released Tuesday.

Passenger traffic at Philippine airports increased to 4.02 million in the second quarter of the year, up from 747,999 a year earlier. Traffic remained significantly lower than the pre-pandemic level of 41.95 million, according to data from the Transportation department.

Fitch Ratings has an “improving” outlook on airports in the Asia-Pacific, owing to the resumption of international travel while domestic traffic “rebounds strongly.”

On Nov. 11, the Transportation department said it completed 233 airport projects, including Terminal 2 of Clark International Airport, the Bohol-Panglao International Airport, the second terminal of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport, Bicol International Airport, and airport projects in Calbayog, Kalibo, Tuguegarao, Catarman, and San Vicente, Palawan.

It said 84 more airport projects are being implemented.

San Miguel Corp. is building a P740-billion airport in Bulacan province.

A new consortium recently submitted an unsolicited proposal to develop the Sangley International Airport. The group is composed of Cavitex Holdings, Inc., the Yuchengco Group of Companies, MacroAsia Corp., Samsung C&T, Munich Airport International GmbH, and Arup Group.

“Travel restrictions have been easing, and a few countries have reopened or been set for reopening, which will rejuvenate tourism,” Fitch Ratings said.

The ratings agency expects the overall air traffic in the region to recover further in 2022, as countries achieve high vaccination rates and reopen borders.

“We expect overall air traffic will continue to recover in 2022, although not to reach pre-pandemic levels until 2024,” Fitch Ratings said.

“We believe passenger demand for leisure and other personal travel to bounce back faster than for corporate travel, with domestic travel recovering the fastest,” it added.

Some countries might adopt a “more cautious approach,” delaying the recovery of international traffic. — Arjay L. Balinbin

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