Westchester County Airport Revitalization Attracts Three Firms

airplane at gateAug. 10, 2017 - Three world-class airport operators -- FerroStar Westchester Airport Partners, HPN Aviation Group, LLC, and MIC Airports, LLC, -- have responded to Westchester County’s request for proposals to manage and operate its airport as part of a public-private partnership made possible through a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) program that allows profits from airport operations to be used for public purposes such as parks, public safety, roads and social services.

In announcing the companies, County Executive Robert P. Astorino noted that the RFP had four key components. Proposals had to:

  • Meet the conditions of the FAA program,
  • Maintain the airport’s current size by keeping the existing number of runways, gates and passenger caps in place,
  • Maintain strict environmental safeguards, and
  • Provide financial benefits for taxpayers.

“We’re pleased with the level of expertise, experience and professionalism that each of these respondents brings to the table,” Astorino said. “I’m confident that our initiative will result in a revitalization of Westchester County Airport that benefits taxpayers, enhances the experiences of passengers, and protects the character of the surrounding communities. This is about smart government working to position a vital county asset for a strong future.”

Frasca & Associates, a leading, independent transportation and financial consulting firm, is overseeing the selection process. Frasca will help ensure that the operator selected to run the airport will provide the most value to the county in terms of financial return, operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.

The next step is for the county’s bipartisan Airport Task Force to review the proposals from the three companies. A lease will then be negotiated with the company deemed to have the best proposal, which then goes to the Board of Legislators. The expectation is that a vote by the BOL will take place by the end of the year with 12 votes needed for approval.

As is the case with all RFPs, no financial information will be made public until the lease goes to the BOL because disclosures would undermine the negotiations. “While financial information cannot be made public at this time, residents should know that the county received three serious proposals from three serious companies,” said Doreen Frasca, President and Principal of Frasca & Associates.

The respondents are (in alphabetical order):

  • FerroStar Westchester Airport Partners is a consortium comprised of Ferrovial Airports International and Star America Fund GP. Ferrovial, based in Spain, is an international company that specializes in construction, infrastructure, and airports, and Star America is a New York-based infrastructure asset manager that has financed, underwritten and managed over 45 infrastructure projects valued at over $60 billion.

  • HPN Aviation Group is a joint-venture between Oaktree Transportation Infrastructure and Connor Capital Transportation Opportunities. Oaktree is based in Los Angeles and its global clients include 75 of the 100 largest U.S. pension plans, over 400 corporations around the world, over 350 endowments and foundations globally, 16 sovereign wealth funds and 38 of the 50 primary state retirement plans in the United States. Connor Capital is a private investment partnership focused on investing in transportation and transportation-related companies. Since 2013, it has operated Luis Munoz Marin International Airport outside of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and also created a 50-year partnership for the Seagirt Marine Terminal in Baltimore, MD, the primary port serving Washington, D.C.

  • MIC Airports, LLC, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Macquarie Infrastructure Corporation, which owns, operates and invests in a portfolio of infrastructure businesses. The Manhattan-based company consists of an airport services business, a gas processing and distribution business, and a portfolio of contracted power and energy investments that includes ownership of gas-fired and controlling interests in wind and solar power facilities in the U.S. Macquarie owns Atlantic Aviation, an operator of more than 60 fixed-based operators including locations at Stewart International and Teterboro airports. It also has ownership and management interests throughout the world, including at Brussels Airport, Copenhagen Airport and Delhi Airport.

The RFP was sent out in April 2017 after the county executive, in partnership with the Board of Legislators, announced plans to take advantage of the FAA’s program that allows small-and mid-size airports to establish public-private management partnerships. Under the FAA’s program, airport revenues can -- for the first time -- be unlocked to help pay for county services, such as police, parks, roads and day care as opposed to for only airport purposes. The county airport has been privately managed and operated by AvPORTS since 1977 and has been managed privately for the county since 1945.