In the first 100 days since the Puerto Rican government turned over the management of the, the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, to Aerostar Airport Holdings, the new operator said Tuesday it has already checked off a number of improvements from its list.
During a news conference at the island’s main air traffic facility, Ports Authority and Aerostar representatives provided a rundown of what has been achieved since the transaction was signed earlier this year.
So far, repairwork has been completed on roads, the terminals have gotten a paint job, the lighting system has been replaced and jet bridges have received maintenance, at a total cost of about $6 million, Aerostar CEO Agustín Arellano said.
However, the bulk of the work planned for LMM will kick off in September, when Aerostar will embark on a 30-month improvement project with an associated $260 million investment to be completed in phases, as this media outlet reported in April.
“According to the long-term lease, Aerostar has 18 months to make a number of arrangements known as immediate general improvements,” he said. “These improvements include landscaping, jet bridges, and airport access, among other important improvements to maximize passengers service.”
“To date, all provisions are in place and in the first 100 days we have already invested more than $6 million in hiring the services of Puerto Rican companies. We will also remodel the terminals, with an investment of $260 million and the creation of 2,500 jobs over a three year-period,” the executive added.
The airport improvement project calls for closing down terminals and moving airlines and passengers to other areas as the work is being completed. The first area to undergo physical changes will be Terminal B, which will be shut down and its occupants will be moved to Terminal D, which is currently empty.
The company has also earmarked $3.5 million to improve LMM’s multi-story parking facility. The company also plans to add another connector bridge between said parking structure to lead passengers and airport visitors directly into the JetBlue/Terminal A area.
Meanwhile, Ports Authority Executive Director Víctor Suárez said the transaction with Aerostar has given the agency the resources to be able to develop regional airports. He said that the 40-year deal is one of several strategies in place to position Ports back in the black.
“The next step is to open a retirement window and refinance $447 million in debt toward the end of the year,” he said. “I will soon be announcing a comprehensive plan that will make our regional airports important economic development hubs.”