The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration signed off on Tuesday on a 40-year lease of Puerto Rico’s Luis Munoz Marin International Airport to Aerostar Airport Holdings LLC, making it the first large U.S. airport to be placed in private hands.
The deal for the Caribbean’s busiest airport, with nearly 9 million passengers a year, is a milestone in Puerto Rico’s privatization program and a bid to expand tourism to help an economy that has long been ailing.
The report is a faithful approximation of the news release, which was the result of work by former governor Luis Guillermo Fortuño. The airport privatization deal was opposed by the current governor, Alejandro Javier García Padilla and his party. When Padilla was elected, he did not support the privatization deal, but he said he would honor the contract that the former governor had signed.
As I wrote when the deal was happening, the price paid by Aerostar to lease the airport was extremely low:
According to the financial statements of the Puerto Rico Port Authority for 2011, LMM [airport] generated $99 million in total revenue, including $70 million of operating revenue. Earnings (EBITDA) were approximately $40 million.