Transportation
2:44 pm
Fri February 24, 2012

Allegheny County Airport Authority in Bidding to Run Puerto Rico's Busiest Airport

The Allegheny County Airport Authority, along with a consortium led by GE Capital Aviation, is pursuing a contract to run Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Authority spokeswoman JoAnn Jenny said the authority is just one part of the group hoping to take control of the busiest airport in Puerto Rico, which flies out slightly more passengers than Pittsburgh International with 4.2 million departing passengers in 2010, according to FAA data.

"There are a lot of elements to the consortium," Jenny said. "The piece that we bring to the table is our technical operation advisory role, and we've got experience with the Department of Homeland Security, the TSA as well as the FAA."

The consortium is in a bidding race with six other groups, down from the 12 that applied last summer. Other members of what is called the Puerto Rico Gateway Group include TIAA-CREF, and pension fund OPTrust of Toronto, which have skills in financial oversight which will be needed to bring Marín International $560 million out of the red.

Jenny said details of the group's proposal are confidential as the process is still going on, but that if they would win the bid, it would be a new business venture, leaving Allegheny County Airport and Pittsburgh International mostly unaffected.

"The resources that we use to operate those airports will stay intact and we're also going to work to be as efficient and safe as we've always been at Pittsburgh International Airport," Jenny said.

Jenny said this is the first such venture for the authority, and that there is no previous record of airports winning such bids because the Federal Aviation Administration only began allowing airport privatization in this country in the late 1990s.

Overseers of the selection process, the Puerto Rico Public-Private Partnerships Authority, will select the winner, but a date for selection is not set.