Expansion of airport system proposed
By John McPhaul
The minority leader for the New Progressive Party delegation in the House of Representatives, Carlos “Johnny” Mendez, reiterated the importance of promoting the creation of new local airlines through the island’s regional airports.
“I have always promoted a robust regional airport system to develop the economy in our municipalities. One of the ways to create this activity is the development of new airlines that encourage, in turn, the establishment of shops in these airports. For that, it is important to evaluate the creation of an Airline Incentive Fund and for the Development of Air Access, which is proposed in House Bill 28, “ said the former House Speaker.
The legislative piece, which has as co-author the president of the legislative body, Rafael ‘Tatito’ Hernández, establishes that airlines that create new routes departing from Puerto Rico may request an incentive on the costs of landing on the runway, reimbursements for passenger fees, among others.
The bill creates the Air Line Incentives Fund and for the Development of Air Access, under the administration of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC).
This fund will have an initial contribution of $5 million from the PRTC as well as an allocation-for four consecutive years-of $4 million, which comes from the Special Fund for Economic Development created by Law 73-2008 (Law of Economic Incentives for the Development of Puerto Rico).
“The establishment of new air routes would turn Puerto Rico into an important air hub, and will facilitate greater resources for the municipalities and the same airports that operate, particularly the regional airports that so urgently need this economic injection,” added the leader of the NPP in the Lower House.
The bill also establishes a contribution rate of 4% on the expenses associated with air transport for a fixed term of 20 years, as well as an exemption from the payment of municipal patents of up to 60%.
“Airports such as Antonio Rivera Radiques in Vieques, Benjamin Rivera Noriega in Culebra and José Aponte de la Torre in Ceiba, will benefit even more from the statutes of this project because it encourages the creation of more routes to and from the two island municipalities,” said the representative for District # 36 of Rio Grande. Luquillo, Fajardo, Ceiba, Vieques and Culebra.
Article 6 of the bill places an annual allocation of $200,000 from the Fund to assist airlines that establish or expand routes at Antonio Rivera Radiques (Vieques) and Benjamin Rivera Noriega (Culebra) regional airports. In addition, a preferential fixed rate of air transport tax of three per cent is established for all airlines that travel continuously to Vieques and Culebra.