APFC to invest P7-B for 18 new vessels
FastCat CEO Christopher Pastrana and Landbank President Alex Buenaventura led the ceremonial signing for the funding of five brand new FastCats on Thursday, April 5, 2018, at Diamond Hotel.
Archipelago Philippine Ferries Corp. (APFC), the shipping company that operates FastCat is looking at investing P7 billion for the acquisition of 18 new vessels to complete the re-fleeting program of 30 FastCats by 2020.
Christopher Pastrana, chief executive of FastCat said they will acquire 18 new vessels estimated to cost $149 million each. Out of the 18 planned ship acquisitions, eight were funded by the banks.
Christine Guevarra, vice president for marketing said the 18 ships will require funding of about P7 billion.
APFC has signed a P1.726 billion loan with Landbank of the Philippines (Landbank) last April 5 to buy five new vessels. Pastrana said the 12-year loan term with Landbank has 6-7 percent interest rates fixed for three years.
“We are fortunate that Landbank is aligned with our vision to modernize the shipping industry, to connect the Philippines through ‘moving bridges’ and to ensure safer more comfortable and reliable means of sea transport,“ Pastrana said during the ceremonial signing of the loan agreement with key Landbank executives at the Diamond Hotel.
Landbank senior vice president Joselito Gutierrez said Landbank aggressively supports the maritime sector. In fact, a sizeable loan portfolio has been earmarked to modernize the domestic shipping industry, which is one of the priority programs of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“The transport system is the bloodline of the country’s progress and it is necessary for developing other sectors like tourism, that’s why we support aggressively these re-fleeting projects,” Gutierrez said.
APFC has secured a P1.1 billion loan from the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) last February 27 to finance the construction of three vessels.
Currently, FastCat has a fleet of 12 vessels and targets to increase it to 20 ferries by next year.
“We are talking to three other banks to complete our modernization program that will bring our total fleet from 12 ships this year to 30 ships by the year 2020. With a fleet of 30 ships, we can serve less than 15 percent of the market,” he said during the interview.
APFC has contracted Bonny Fair, a shipyard in China to construct their multi-hulled vessels, which is a 54- meter catamaran Roll-on /Roll-off -passenger (RoPax) , with bow thrusters and windlass, equipped with flooding containment systems, Person –with- disability (PWD) –friendly, and Tier III compliant engines. The new ship has a325- passenger capacity.
He expected that by the first half of 2019, they will be able to deploy eight new vessels and be able to service additional routes including Bulalacao (Mindoro), to Coron and Puerto Princesa (Palawan), Lucena to Marinduque and other parts of the Visayas and Mindanao regions. They expect the delivery of 10-12 ships in 2019.
By next year’s first quarter, they plan to offer the Buliluyan (Palawan)- Kudat (Malaysia) route to serve millions of Filipinos working in Malaysia and enhance regional trade and tourism through ferry service.
“The Governors of Palawan and Malaysia are pushing for the Asean connectivity. We would like to service the Buliluyan -Cudat by the first quarter of next year. We are just waiting for the Malaysian government to issue some regulations,” Pastrana said.