LA PAZ – The Bolivian government does not rule out suing Spain’s Abertis Infraestructuras SA for alleged neglect during the period the Spanish company ran Bolivia’s three largest airports.
“We have not discarded” the option of suing Abertis, Public Works Minister Milton Claros told a press conference. “For lack of adequate maintenance, our runways have suffered important structural damage.”
Until 2013, Abertis controlled 90 percent of Servicios de Aeropuertos Bolivianos S.A., or Sabsa, which ran the airports serving La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz under a concession awarded in 1997.
Sabsa changed hands twice since then, passing in 1999 from U.S.-based Airport Group International to Britain’s TBI, which five years later sold the firm to Abertis and Spanish state-owned aviation administrator AENA.
The Bolivian government expropriated Sabsa in February 2013, accusing the company of not investing enough in improvements to the three airports.
In September of that year, Bolivian President Evo Morales said that Abertis and AENA would not be compensated for the nationalization of Sabsa.
Claros’ comments came on the same day representatives of Abertis and the Bolivian government appeared before the International Court of Arbitration in Paris in the matter of the nationalization of Sabsa.
Bolivia seeks to demonstrate that while Abertis committed to investing $27 million in the three airports, the company spent only $1.9 million.
Attorney General Hector Arce has said the government will document “a serious of very serious irregularities” that justified Bolivia’s decision to nationalize Sabsa.