Airport Conflict Worries Business Owners

September 15, 2006

Business owners this week expressed concern about a years-long conflict between the Costa Rican government and the British consortium Alterra Partners, which was contracted to modernize Costa Rica’s main airport, JuanSantamaríaInternationalAirport, northwest of San José.

The Union of Private-Sector Chambers and Associations (UCCAEP) said in a statement, “These problems will soon affect exports and tourism, reduce the number of flights and discourage investors.”

Alterra, which has managed the airport since 2001, halted modernization projects in 2003 because of an alleged $18 million financial imbalance. However, Alterra decided to reinitiate some work in January while an addendum to the contract was negotiated (TT, Dec. 16, 2005).

“The uncertainty around the contract and its implementation is giving a bad image to the country and leaving the airport’s infrastructure problems unresolved,” said UCCAEP president Rafael Carrillo.

“We need this problem to be resolved. The government and Alterra should soon make the decision that will most benefit the country,” Carrillo said.

Planned airport modernization projects cost $160 million, $90 million of which has been provided by banks and $40 million by Alterra investors.

The company says it does not have the rest of the necessary resources to carry out  the project, (TT, June 30) but it is continuing to work on the airport.

 

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