In about a week, the Federal Aviation Administration is expected to make its decision on the public-private partnership agreement through which the government of Puerto Rico would turn over the management of the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport to Aerostar Airport Holdings for the next 40 years.
In a recent conversation with the Department of Transportation, the FAA’s umbrella agency, Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi brought up several matters related to the impending decision, including the proposed Jan. 11 deadline for the concessionaire, the importance of maintaining service to Puerto Rico’s regional airports and Gov. Alejandro García-Padilla’s public statements in support of the privatization.
That call took place Dec. 14, 2012, when Pierluisi spoke to DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, Chief of Staff Joan DeBoer, Assistant Secretary of Governmental Affairs Dana Gresham, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Governmental Affairs Amit Bose and Deputy General Counsel James Cole, Jr.
LaHood suggested that Pierluisi — who was sworn-in for a second term at his post in Washington Thursday — set up a time to meet with FAA representatives to discuss his views. However, that meeting has yet to take place, Pierluisi’s Press Director Dennise Pérez told this media outlet.
If approved, Aerostar Airport Holdings — a consortium comprised of Mexico’s Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste (ASUR) and Highstar Capital — would manage Puerto Rico’s main airport facility for 40 years.
Pursuant to the terms of its bid, Aerostar Airport Holdings will make an upfront payment of approximately $615 million to the Puerto Rico Ports Authority. This payment is expected to be funded by a combination of financing and equity contributions on a 50-50 basis from each of ASUR and Highstar Capital IV.
Grupo ASUR — which manages nine airports in southeast Mexico through a P3 agreement with the country’s government — intends to transform LMM into a world-class airport through a capital investment program of more than $1.4 billion during the term of the lease, while working with the airport community and airlines to better serve passengers.
The FAA has been involved with the P3 transaction since the start, as the deal took shape under the agency’s “Airport Privatization Pilot Program,” to spur improvement and development in major airports. As of June 2012, there were three active applications in the program: Chicago Midway International Airport; LMM; and Hendry County Airglades Airport in Florida.