Governor calls for special session on airport bond bill

Legislature seal. (PNC file photo)

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero has asked the Legislature to convene a special session on Wednesday to tackle Bill No. 429-35 (COR), which seeks to authorize the issuance and refinancing of revenue bonds for the Guam airport.

In her letter to Speaker Tina Muna-Barnes, the governor said the refinancing of the airport’s outstanding revenue bonds is needed so that it may achieve debt service reductions beginning in fiscal year (FY) 2021.

“We are all aware of the devastating impact the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has had on our island economy and this is no different for the GIAA. The reduction in enplanements from an average of 5,000 per day to 5,000 per month has negatively impacted airport finances and requires swift action to ensure our airport weathers this storm of uncertainty,” the governor said.

GIAA has experienced a significant reduction in airport revenues, with an approximate $30 million loss in FY 2020 and an uncertain future in FY 2021. GIAA has performed its due diligence in reducing airport operational expenses by almost 20% in FY 2020 and continues this reduction in FY 2021 while continuing to improve upon its ability to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19 through its operations.

The governor said Bill 429-35 aims to assist the airport even further by authorizing it to refinance its existing debt to reduce debt service costs, adding to the reduced operational expense footprint the GIAA has already achieved.

“In order to welcome more visitors to Guam safely, we must ensure we provide the airport with the tools and flexibility necessary to manage the uncertainty in the air travel industry. Similar to the Hotel Occupancy Tax refinancing, which sought to assist our ailing visitors bureau with operational funding as a result of savings achieved, Bill 429-35 would extend similar consideration to the GIAA,” Leon Guerrero said.

The Speaker has already called the Legislature to a special session tomorrow, Wednesday, at 10:30 am.