Guam – The Guam International Airport Friday denied the protest filed by the DFS Group over the decision to open negotiations with the Lotto Group for the airport’s duty free concession space.
A statement from GIAA says “after a thorough review and investigation” the DFS protest was denied.
DFS is now expected to take its protest to the Office of Public Accountability, although DFS Senior Vice-President James Beighley on Friday declined comment on his companies next move.
DFS filed its protest April 23rd citing what it called concerns over the regularity and transparency associated with the process of awarding the retail concessions at A.B. Won Pat International Airport. The April 23rd protest, they said, was merely a continuation of a protest DFS says they first made privately in October of last year.
In a release, DFS Group COO Michael Schriver said “We at DFS share the concern of the Guam business community that the reputation of Guam as a place to invest for business may be tarnished by these unusual proceedings … Through this protest, we seek to ensure that the bid process be fair and transparent, and that all the rules and laws governing the process be strictly adhered to.”
However, in its statement, the Airport Authority said that “the Airport evaluation committee engaged in a fair and deliberative process” and the vote on the rankings of the 4 bidders “maintained the integrity and fairness of the competitive proposal process.”
On April 12, after a 4 month delay, the Board of the Guam International Airport Authority [GIAA] voted 3-0 for candidate “A”, which turned out to be the bid from Lotte for GIAA’s lucrative concession space at the Guam Airport.
GIAA Board Chairman Frank Santos and Board Member Linda Tolan recused themselves, as they did at the last meeting when they said they wanted to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest after they accepted, but then returned, gifts that came from Lotte. Vice Chair Jess Torres, serving as Acting Chair, abstained from voting.
The 3 Board members who voted were asked to choose from 4 bidders who had been assigned letters, and ranked “A”, “D”, “C” and “B.” The “A” bidder was ranked first and recommend by Airport Management .The Board members did not know the name of the company they were voting for. It was only after the vote that it was revealed that bidder “A” was Lotte. The names of the “D”, “C” and “B” bidders were not revealed.
Besides Lotte, the other 3 bidders were DFS, Shilla Duty Free of South Korea and JR Duty Free of Australia.
The decision was originally slated to be made last December, ahead of the January expiration of the current contract with DFS. The contract that expired in January has been continued on a month to month basis with DFS.