South Korea's Kumho to upgrade Philippine airport

South Korea's Kumho to upgrade Philippine airport

MANILA - A South Korean firm has won a US$82.9 million (S$104 million) contract to upgrade an airport at one of the Philippines' hottest tourist destinations, authorities said Tuesday.

The government named Kumho Industrial Co. as the successful bidder for the Puerto Princesa project, in a process that was largely funded by a US$71.6 million Korean Export-Import Bank soft loan and was only open to South Korean companies.

Puerto Princesa is the capital of Palawan island in the country's southwest, with beautiful rainforests and beaches that is being marketed as an ecotourism destination.

"The ecotourism showcase that is Puerto Princesa, as well as the rest of Palawan, will soon have a modern, world-class airport which we can be as proud of as the destination itself," Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya said.

Puerto Princesa airport handled 1.335 million passengers last year, way beyond its annual capacity of 350,000 passengers, according to the transport department.

The upgraded airport will be able to process two million passengers each year.

Kumho and its Korean consortium partner, GS Engineering and Construction, must deliver new passenger and cargo terminals and an air navigation system, as well as an apron and connecting taxiways, by early 2017.

Boosted by the United States' move to remove it from an aviation safety blacklist last month, the Philippines is racing to modernise major airports to help it more than double annual tourist arrivals to 10 million by 2016.

Last month the government awarded a US$389 million contract to an India-led consortium to upgrade the passenger terminal in the central city of Cebu, the country's second airport.

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