With less revenues, airport continues to tighten belt

A.B. Won Pat International Airport (file photo)

The Guam International Airport Authority’s revenues have plunged to almost zero because of the pandemic.

The reduction in enplanements from an average of 5,000 per day to 5,000 per month has negatively impacted airport finances.

Because of this, 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 as the island’s tourism industry continues to cope with the worldwide slowdown in travel caused by COVID-19.

Due to its drastically reduced revenues, GIAA is focusing on cutting expenditures and refinancing its debts in order to stay afloat.

“Because of this pandemic, we’ve seen a real sharp decrease in revenue. When you can see that the expenditure side of management is really trying to control expenses, I think there’s good stewardship and good guidance,” GIAA chairman Brian Bamba said during the airport’s last board meeting.

He stressed that although the revenue side of the equation is outside of the airport’s control, GIAA can at least do something about expenditures which it has full control over.

“Once we can start to see some light at the end of the tunnel, hopefully some of the things that we’ve been able to do to reduce expenses are things that can be carried through so that we can really catch up when revenues do turn around,” he said.

Airport deputy executive manager Ricky Hernandez said one tool that the airport has used to control its expenditures is its budget.

According to Hernandez, the airport has reduced expenditures by about 20 percent and a lot of that has to do with reductions in contractual services as well as materials and supplies.

In addition, there have been some reductions in personnel services as well as ongoing efforts to refinance the airport’s bond obligations.

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero has already signed into law Bill No. 429-35 (COR), which seeks to authorize the issuance and refinancing of revenue bonds for the Guam airport.

According to the governor, the refinancing of the airport’s outstanding revenue bonds is needed so that it may achieve debt service reductions beginning fiscal year 2021.

“We are all aware of the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on our island economy and this is no different for the GIAA,” the governor said.

The airport is hopeful that its debt service restructuring will get it through the fiscal year or until the time when tourism arrivals normalize.