Transportation
5:23 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Conservative Group Questions Airport Authority's Bid to Run San Juan Airport

Citing a lack of details and a track record of sub-par management of Pittsburgh International Airport, the Allegheny Institute, a conservative think tank based in Mt. Lebanon, is questioning the Allegheny County Airport Authority's bid to run Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Authority is among six groups trying to win the contract. Institute Senior Research Associate Frank Gamrat said while they are all for privatization, "what makes us skeptical of the proposal is they're not starting in their own back yard first."

The Airport Authority is a part of consortium run by GE Capitol that is vying to manage the San Juan airport.

Authority spokeswoman JoAnn 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."

But Gamrat thinks the Authority would do better to improve its performance at home.

"Their managerial experience with Pittsburgh International Airport hasn't been all that terrific. They haven't really had a proven track record here of bringing in extra flights or increasing flights to other cities, which is what they're going to be asked to do in Puerto Rico," Gamrat said.

Gamrat said he understands that US Airways' steep reduction in operations at Pittsburgh International in 2004 was a major blow to the airport, but notes that Pittsburgh International Airport continues to struggle to bring in travelers. In 2011 it is estimated that about 8.4 million passengers passed through Pittsburgh International.