Aerostar still targeting Q1 close for San Juan airport deal

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Aeroportuario del Sureste (ASUR) and Highstar Capital-owned Aerostar Airport Holdings continues to target a first quarter approval and financial close for the 40-year concession of the San Juan Luis Munoz Marin International airport.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) completed a 60 day public comment period on the concession, which is required under its airport pilot privatisation programme, on 19 November 2012 but has yet to issue a ruling.

Emmett McCann, a managing director at Highstar, says that the concessionaire maintains its first quarter target for approval and close.

Puerto Rico governor-elect Alejandro Garcia-Padilla raised concerns regarding existing workers at the airport, the right to expand the island's other regional airports and airline rates at Luis Munoz Marin in a call with US Department of Transportation (DOT) secretary Ray LaHood in December, according to a regulatory filing on 7 January. Specifically, he said that the concessionaire must retain all existing employees and not increase rates.

There are no limits on expanding Puerto Rico's regional airports and airline rates are set to decrease under the concession contract filed by the Puerto Rico Ports Authority (PRPA) with the FAA in September 2012. However, Aerostar could only promise to interview all existing employees at the airport but not guarantee a job.

"Aerostar cannot state any intention to employ any current employees, as all positions will be open for employment and may attract former employees of other airports or American Airlines operations staff," says the PRPA in the filing.

The majority of the airport's airlines, including American Airlines and JetBlue Airways - its two largest carriers by enplanements - support the concession contract.

ASUR did not immediately respond to questions.