US Business Council pushes to replace scrapped US$1.1 billion privatisation of local airport

The Business Council of Westchester, a business membership organisation in Westchester County, New York, has launched the Coalition for Westchester Airport to campaign to implement a public-private partnership (PPP) to operate the local airport. In 2017, three companies submitted proposals for the privatisation. Macquarie Infrastructure was selected by the County Executive to operate the airport for 40 years through an agreement valued at US$1.1 billion. However, a new County Executive took office in January and has not resumed the award process. Westchester County Airport has been successfully operating for 70 years, always under private management selected by and reporting to the county. However, the Business Council believes that users of the airport and residents of the county would be better served by a privately-run airport. It is proposing that the Westchester County maintain ownership and oversight of the airport, while responsibility for operations and infrastructure improvements be taken on by a private partner. The Council has emphasised that the Coalition is not advocating to expand the airport, but is calling for reasonable enhancements that would improve the airport’s existing services and facilities. Such work is unlikely to be undertaken by the County due to the current US$18 million budget deficit. The Coalition faces an uphill battle. The County Executive has recently reaffirmed that he does not support the imminent tendering of the airport, citing the need for preliminary review, a timely process. The Chairman of the Westchester County Board of Legislators has reportedly expressed similar reservations. However, with major construction companies, legal firms, public sector organisations and several other industry representatives already having joined the Coalition, there is significant economic and political backing for the privatisation, which the County will not be able to ignore.   Source: Infrapppworld