San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Banks, Bechtel to Discuss Juan Santamaría Contract

Representatives of the London-based Bechtel and international banks that put up $120 million for the delay-plagued improvements to Juan Santamaría airport are expected to meet in San José in coming days.

Last Friday, the government gave Alterra, a Bechtel subsidiary that is operating the airport, until next Monday to resolve whether it will be able to find a solution to its financial imbalance, according to Public Works and Transit Ministry (MOPT) spokesman Omar Segura.

If the government, Alterra and the banks don’t come to an agreement about how long the company’s contract to operate the country’s main airport could be extended and how much in fines Alterra should have to pay for construction delays, the government may have to find a new company to continue operating the airport or operate it itself in coming months.

The Juan Santamaría contract dispute saga began in 2003 as a disagreement over the amount Alterra charges airlines and other companies operating in the airport (TT,March 28, 2003).

Airport construction was halted for a while because of the dispute (TT, June 10, 2005), but resumed last December (TT, Dec. 22, 2006).


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