SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico’s chief airport has rebuilt around 90 percent of the structure that was affected a year ago by Hurricane Maria and expects to handle 9 million passengers this year after a major decline in 2017.
The announcement of the rebuilding was made during a press conference by Agustin Arellano, president and CEO of Aerostar Airport Holdings, LLC, the company that manages San Juan’s Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport.
“The airport is Puerto Rico’s entrance and exit. It is the first and last image of the island that those who come and visit us experience. That is what’s important: maintaining a good image, an image of recovery, of Puerto Rico being on its feet, continuing to be an important attraction in the Caribbean,” he said.
The initial estimate of the damage to the airport caused by Maria was $80 million.
The hurricane destroyed more than 1 million sq. ft. of the terminals’ roofs, as well as other areas, causing water infiltration that damaged some of the walls.
Arellano said that repairs in terminals A and B were 100 percent completed, while the A, B and C boarding areas were 90 percent rebuilt.
A new, improved signposting system will also be installed, which intends to facilitate the circulation of vehicles and enhance the passengers’ experience.
The number of passengers that the airport received dropped 30 percent in the wake of the disaster.
Arellano confirmed that the number of passengers and every flight itinerary had returned to normal, as they were before the hurricane.
In 2016, according to Arellano, the airport received 9.1 million passengers, decreasing to roughly 8.5 million in 2017.