Ferrovial questioned in Denver Airport P3 process

The project is moving forward despite members of the city’s Council expressing concerns about the fate of airport workers and the Spanish company’s track record.

The Denver City Council has given the go-ahead to Denver International Airport for negotiating the long-term contract associated with the Great Hall redevelopment P3 project.

The “pre-development” agreement marks the kick-off of a six-month process involving DIA and a Ferrovial-led consortium, which was chosen as preferred bidder for the redevelopment of the Jeppesen Terminal in July.

The team also includes US developer Saunders and JLC Loop Capital Partners, a joint venture between Chicago-based Loop Capital and the company created by former basketball star Magic Johnson.

The council voted 10-2 in favour of the agreement, but some of the holdouts as well as others raised concerns about the fate of jobs at shops to be closed during the works, the length of the contract, and handing power over public infrastructure to a private party.

Questions were also raised about Ferrovial’s track record dealing with workers as well as bribery allegations surrounding some of the Spanish company’s executives in Spain.

The concerns echo the findings of a report by airport Union Unite Here, which said that two Ferrovial executives face a sentence of 4.5 years in prison and a €10 million fine for trying to influence the awarding of public contracts.

“Denver International Airport has not made public the bids and other documents associated with this project. In contrast, the Colorado Department of Transportation has released documents associated with bids for its public infrastructure projects,” the union also said.

There were also questions about Cintra, a Ferrovial subsidiary that operates a 41-mile toll road in Texas which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March. Ferrovial’s project director for the DIA terminal project Chris Butler reportedly replied that the losses, caused by wrong traffic forecasts, were being absorbed by private shareholders, with the Texas state government actually receiving $142 million in revenue from the toll road.

Ferrovial did not respond to a request for comment before press time, while DIA could not be reached.

Denver Airport is seeking to revamp the Jeppesen Terminal, which covers 1.5 million square feet. Renovation works would include consolidating the airline ticket counters, relocating the Transportation Security Administration screening counters, modifying the baggage handling system, and redesigning the shopping and dining areas in the terminal.

When first envisaged in 2009, the project had an estimated cost of $700 million to $950 million. DIA has not released cost projections since, and emphasised that the project now has a different scope.