After much fanfare last month on the part of the government and JuanSantamaríaInternationalAirport operator Alterra Partners that they had finally come to an agreement in their nearly three-year-old contract dispute, the Comptroller General of the Republic has already told them to put away the champagne glasses.
Following a preliminary review of the agreement, known as the contract addendum, the Comptroller determined the document is incomplete, the daily La República reported. The addendum needs the Comptroller’s seal of approval before it can go into effect (TT, Feb. 10).
Missing is more justification for some of the formulas used in the agreement to bring financial equilibrium to the contract. Public Works and Transport Minister Randall Quirós told the daily the setback will not delay the process extensively. The Comptroller was expected to decide on the addendum by mid-March.
The multimillion-dollar contract dispute began in March 2003 as a result of a report issued by the Comptroller questioning Alterra’s plans for airport financing.
Construction was halted after international banks funding the airport’s renovation suspended the final $30 million of Alterra’s $120 million loan until the dispute was resolved (TT,March 28, 2003).
While Alterra is mending its contract to operate Juan Santamaría, northwest of San José, the company – whose major partner is construction giant Bechtel – is interested in selling its participation in the two other airports it manages in Latin America, La República reported.
If its projects in Peru and the island of Curacao were sold, Alterra’s airport operation would be limited to Juan Santamaría and a minor participation in the airport in Shanghi, Singapore.