The request that Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration to restrict flights in and out of the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, could have a negative impact on commerce and the loss of more than 600,000 private sector jobs.
Citing U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, CofC President José E. Ledesma said he agreed with the request Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico in Washington, Jenniffer González, to the governor to “categorically” exclude air cargo from this request, reminding her that commercial cargo is received in Puerto Rico through companies such as DHL, UPS, FedEx and others, and that her request would affect Puerto Rico’s foreign trade.
“I sent a letter to Gov. Vázquez, expressing concerns from various member companies, associations affiliated with the Chamber of Commerce, and other entities that are members of the Private Sector Coalition,” he said.
“There is a consensus that the information published by La Fortaleza — on the petition to the FAA — is very comprehensive and can have a far too dire impact on commerce and its employees, and on our response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
Many of the products and supplies Puerto Rico needs to fight COVID-19 are received by air cargo. About 50% of air cargo comes through passenger flights, “so we have to warn the government of the potential negative impact on local business,” said Ledesma.
In addition, the petition could create a negative precedent regarding the possibility that the U.S. government may extend the petition beyond Puerto Rico’s control, or that it may apply the measure unilaterally in the future, without the island’s consultation or consent, Ledesma said.
He asked for a teleconference meeting with the governor, as well as the Economic Development and Commerce Secretary, the Ports Authority executive director and members of the CofC.