The closure of borders in Costa Rica between March and August of last year, as well as the reduction of air traffic in the rest of the months, had strong repercussions on the revenues registered at the Juan Santamaría Airport, which fell by 68%. This situation triggered a clause in the Interested Management Agreement (CGI) to offset part of the money invested by the concessionaire of the air terminal, Aeris.
Given this, the country opted for a disbursement of $ 29.9 million, based on a report by the rating firm Moody’s. The firm’s senior analyst, Adrián Garza, highlighted the country’s decision since, in the current context, it favors economic reactivation, especially in a sector as affected as the tourism industry.
“Thinking, from a macroeconomic perspective, it is relevant that rates have not increased, because it is necessary to encourage air traffic to recover Pre-Pandemic levels. We see this as something positive,” he stated.
Garza added that the risk rating agency sees the implementation of these “financial rebalancing” clauses as practical, especially given the current circumstances in the world. “We see this as something positive for the classification of the airport we assign. It gives liquidity to the company, especially in these circumstances, which has been a very strong shock for the airport sector. I would say even stronger in the case of Costa Rica, due to the restrictive measures that they initially took,” he said.
The analyst added that, “it is not an extraordinary support or a rescue”, as it is a common clause in this type of arrangement. In addition, he highlighted the positive impact it has on private investment in this type of infrastructure, “so critical for the country.”
“According to the CGI, Aeris has the right to receive compensation in the form of reimbursement, rate increase or a concession extension as a result of the fall in traffic levels of 15% or more during the last months.
“Aeris reached an agreement with the Government of Costa Rica, in which they receive $ 29.9 million to restore financial balance. Furthermore, we understand that the Government of Costa Rica is analyzing a potential extension of the concession”, indicated the public report of the firm, issued on January 18.
Since July of last year, the concessionaire company warned that this situation led to sharp falls, both in the entry of people and flights, as well as in the amounts for fees that they represent for the company. Between March and July 2020, Aeris reported losses of $ 2 million per month, as confirmed to this medium by executive director Rafael Mencía, in July of last year.
As a result of this, he indicated that the company would seek to renegotiate the terminal’s management contract with the Costa Rican government. In addition, he recalled that the country had to assume the bill for the $ 600,000 used in the adjustments to comply with the sanitary measures established by the Costa Rican authorities.
Due to the Pandemic and the decrease in the flow of income, the representative accepted that the works carried out, as part of the operational plan, go to the background. This, without specifying the total destined to the air terminal during 2020. However, Mencía explained that during 2018 and until October 2019, the investment amounted to $ 107 million, of which $ 76 was contributed by Aeris and the rest by Cetac and Management General of Civil Aviation (DGAC).
According to estimates, Costa Rica would be receiving between 25% to 30% of the total number of international tourists it received in 2019. This would increase to 50%, in 2022; in 2023 it would rise to 75%, according to calculations by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).