Guam airport holding the line on its finances

Airport executive director John Quinata (PNC file photo)

Guam’s airport survived a significant budget shortfall last year, thanks largely to the CARES Act.

But with federal aid uncertain and a vaccine and treatment still in the experimental phases, what are the airport’s financial prospects for this year?

This past summer, Tom Ada, then executive director for Guam’s international airport told PNC News about how the airport dodged a financial bullet.

A sudden $25 million shortfall due to the pandemic was reduced by about $21 million in CARES Act funds.

The remaining $4 million was made up by cutting back on operational expenses.

But with no future federal aid in sight, what does the airport do now?

Current airport executive director John Quinata says the airport has implemented a number of austerity measures.

Although more federal aid would be helpful, Quinata says he’s not counting on it.

“Hopefully, a new stimulus bill will be coming in, but we’ve gotta go on as if there’s nothing right now. So those are some of the things that we are going to try and hold the cost down, while we’re going through this process,” Quinata said.

Some of the measures include revising contracts to cut costs and a hiring freeze for all vacancies except for public safety and security.

So far, the airport has reduced operations and maintenance expenditures by $10 million.

The airport is also looking to refund its current bonds at a lower interest rate and restructure its debt service amount.

It also still has $5 million of CARES Act funds it can carry over into the current fiscal year.

Quinata’s predecessor warned the airport may have to look at reducing hours and perhaps even layoffs.

For the time being, at least, Quinata says such measures won’t be necessary.

“I’m being optimistic with our financial team. Yes, I think we can hold the line. The last resort will be reduced hours or any kind of furloughs. I don’t want to go there. I think right now the way we are looking at it, that we can avoid any of those issues at this time. So yes, I’m confident. I’m being optimistic,” Quinata said.