San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

C.R. Accepts Houston Firm to Manage Airport

The Costa Rican government has accepted the proposal of the Houston Airport System Development Corporation (HASDC) to take over from the British Alterra Partners as administrator of the JuanSantamaríaInternationalAirport, the most important in the country, which has suffered delays in its modernization process.

Public Works and Transport (MOPT) Vice Minister Viviana Martín confirmed today that HASDC was the new manager and highlighted the company’s experience as “the sixth (largest) airport operator in the world.”

Even though the government has already accepted the corporation’s proposal, the agreement still must go to the Comptroller General’s Office to be ratified.

The agreement stipulates that HASDC will manage the terminal area for 25 years, must update the projects master plan, pay the fines accrued by Alterra to the government for $10 million and buy the company’s shares of stock.

HASDC will start with the first group of projects next December, which will end one year later, and in 2010 will begin the second part.

HASDC, based in Houston, Texas, is a consortium of U.S., Brazilian and Canadian companies. It operates airports in Ecuador, and three in Houston, serving 43 million travelers last year.

MOPT Minister Karla González has stated that, in the case in which the Comptroller General’s Office rejects this agreement, the government still holds an agreement with the Organization of International and Civil Aviation (OACI), which permits it to receive support to take charge of the terminal area.

At Juan Santamaría, west of San José, construction on an immigration and customs building, various boarding areas, offices and stores are on hold.

The project to modernize the airport will cost $160 million, of which $90 million has already been contributed by the International Finance Corp., and another $40 million by Alterra investors.

However, given a 2003 Alterra budget discrepancy concerning $14 million, the IFC froze $30 million of the original total, which led to the delay in works and friction between the government and the company.



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