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Puerto Rico Ports Authority releases RFQ to build new Aguadilla airport runway

The Puerto Rico Ports Authority has opened a Request for Qualifications process to find candidates to rebuild the 11,700-foot Runway 8-26 at the Rafael Hernández Airport in Aguadilla, a $90 million project to be paid for with federal funding.

In an interview with News is my Business, Ports Authority Executive Director Joel Pizá-Batiz confirmed that ahead of the RFP, the agency and project manager Burns & McDonnell Construction have conducted two market outreach events to provide details about the project to gauge interest.

“More than 150 companies on a global scale participated. So now, the RFQ will be sent to all of those contacts,” he said.

According to the RFQ, the scope of the project calls for rebuilding a new runway to replace the current one, which he said has about five more years of useful life.

The schedule calls for submitting the RFQ’s by July 19, 2021, which will then be evaluated and reduced to a short list of candidates by August.

“Only those at the top of the list will be asked to present Requests for Proposals,” he said, projecting that a contract should be signed by December, so that the project can get off the ground by the first quarter of 2022.

The goal is to have the new runway completed by 2027, Pizá-Batiz said. All decisions have been and will be made following Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines, which is paying for the ambitious project.

As a condition to awarding the contract, the winning firm — which will likely be from the US or international — is required to establish joint ventures with local providers who “know the Puerto Rican market, and know suppliers,” to work on the development, Pizá-Batiz said.

Along with the new runway, the Aguadilla airport — which was originally constructed in the Late-1930’s by the U.S. Army Air Corps to support WWII — will get a new passenger terminal and three new cargo warehousing facilities.

The Aguadilla airport generates $1.2 billion a year in economic activity when combining passenger and cargo traffic. Commercial airlines United, jetBlue and Spirit cover passenger routes, and a fourth carrier — most likely American Airlines — is looking to begin offering service there in coming months.

The airport also sees some 3 million pounds of cargo move through every month by a number of airlines such as FedEx, AmeriFlight, Mountain Air Cargo and IFL Group.

By expanding warehousing and storage facilities, Ports seeks to provide the facilities necessary to bring back other airlines that once operated at the Rafael Hernández Airport, such as Emirates and CargoLux, Pizá-Batiz said.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 27 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.
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