New operator at P.R.'s main airport won't hike fees for carriers

San Juan, Apr 1 (EFE).- The private firm that won a 40-year concession to operate San Juan's Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport said Monday that it will not increase fees for carriers using Puerto Rico's main air terminal for five years.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration approved in February the contract between the Puerto Rican government and Aerostar Airport Holdings LLC, a 50-50 joint venture between investment firm Highstar Capital and Mexican airport manager Grupo Aeroportario del Sureste, or ASUR.

"Aerostar has not increased nor can increase fees for airlines over a period of five years. The way to generate profits will not be by increasing costs for companies offering services at the airport, and even less for passengers," Aerostar chief Agustin Arellano said Monday.

He said that in the sixth year there will be a fee increase pegged to the U.S. inflation rate.

Arellano's words follow a statement by lawmaker Jose Varela, who said last week that Aerostar will increase the fees they charge airlines.

The awarding of the San Juan airport contract to Aerostar has sparked controversy in Puerto Rico.

Aerostar Holdings is to provide some $2.6 billion to the Puerto Rico Ports Authority and the island's government over the life of the lease.

Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport handles over 8.5 million passengers per year and is served by more than a dozen airlines.