San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Banks Ask to Move Forward With Airport Renovation

REPRESENTATIVES of 10 international banks financing the expansion of Juan Santamaría International Airport gave their thumbs-up this week to continue the more than $100 million renovation project.


The project has been stalled for nearly three years because of a contract dispute between airport operator Alterra Partners and the government. A settlement was reached earlier this year that both parties agreed would bring financial equilibrium to the controversial contract.


The bankers were in town reviewing and approving that agreement, known as the contract addendum. With their approval, and approval given last weekend by key Alterra associates in Miami, the addendum will now be finalized and turned over to the Comptroller General for final approval before it can go into effect.


Construction of the airport has been frozen since 2003, when the comptrolle issued a report questioning the project’s financing. In response, bankers announced they would suspend the final $30 million of Alterra’s $120 million loan until the dispute was resolved.


However, the comptroller announced last week that Alterra had no right to stop construction, regardless of their financing issues (TT, Dec. 2). The Minister of Public Works and Transport (MOPT) Randall Quirós responded by giving Alterra 30 days to restart construction, but this week the comptroller sent a second statement saying construction must restart immediately.


Quirós therefore notified Alterra they must restart works by today.


Alterra Executive Director Mónica Nagel told the daily La República that this is logistically impossible. A representative of the bankers told the daily it is up to Alterra investors when works restart, not them.

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