Airport opposes land transfer bills - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Airport opposes land transfer bills

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Two measures went up for a public hearing late this afternoon aimed at transferring the title of ownership currently with the airport to the Chamorro Land Trust Commission. However, airport officials are opposed to the bills saying it violates federal law and would have devastating effects on the island's only airport.

"The airport authority is opposed to both bills," noted Guam International Airport authority executive manager Charles Ada, referring to Bills 55 and 104 - two measures introduced by Senator Ben Pangelinan aimed at transferring the title of ownership of two lots from the airport to the CLTC. "Currently in the 2003 bond indenture both leases or revenues from those leases are required to pay our debt service," Ada said.

Bill 55 references property in Barrigada specifically the transfer of the SPPC lease, which is the 76 Gas Station whereas Bill 104 refers to property in Tamuning specifically the transfer of a lease for a steakhouse restaurant currently in construction. Both lots were transferred to the airport for the development of industrial operations directly related to the airport in which the bills both state don't have any direct relation to the airport's operations.

Ada says that's not the case. "The FAA actually outlines both aeronautical and non-aeronautical  purposes for airport property. Currently as we speak 49% of revenues into the airport is from non-aeronautical activity which is actually greater than aeronautical activity so just like every other airport across the country, airports typically are used to be built next to cities, as you see today they're becoming cities," he explained.

Ada says three years ago similar legislation was proposed but unsuccessful at the time. He says revenue generated from the two leases result to a little over a quarter of a million dollars annually. "The concern from the airport is that both these bills take away revenues from the airport which does not allow us to maintain its operational budget and obligations to the bond holders by law we're required to be self-sustaining and revenues diverted from the airport challenge us in doing so," he said.

And as he noted in his testimony before lawmakers, while the airport supports the intent of the bills and the government's efforts to try to provide more financial assistance to the CLTC, they shouldn't be provided in a manner that places in peril Guam's primary link to the rest of the world. He adds diverting revenue funds from the airport would "have devastating effects" and violate not only federal laws and conditions in which GIAA receives funding but violate Guam's own laws enabling GIAA. 

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