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Aecon’s Quito project was a success

PLP meeting: Lawrence Scott, the Shadow Minister of Transport (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Dear Sir,

At the PLP meeting about the airport a few days ago, Lawrence Scott, the Shadow Minister of Transport, was reported as having revealed to a rapt audience that “information has come across my desk” that Canadian construction giant Aecon had “pulled out” of the airport it built in Quito, Ecuador.

Actually, it hasn’t pulled out of the airport, it has sold an interest in the airport concessionary company that it bought before the airport was built.

Anyone who is still impressed by Mr Scott’s intelligence-gathering abilities after learning about that little distortion should also know that Aecon released a press statement about the sale and posted it on its website on June 8, more than three months ago.

The point I make is that Mr Scott obviously wants us to think this “pullout” is indicative of Aecon’s deep, dark, secret, evil intent towards Bermuda, but it’s not — it has been public knowledge for three months. The company bought shares at the time of the agreement with Ecuador to build the airport and, once the facility had been completed, decided to sell them. And why shouldn’t Aecon sell its shareholding? Where’s the scandal in that?

Aecon made a profit, it says in its announcement, of some $14 million on gross revenue of $262 million in the sale. That’s not a wonderful return for its shareholders, but a solid one. Making profits like that is what being in business is all about. It is certainly not the horrible sin the PLP would like its supporters to believe it is.

What might disturb fair-minded Bermudians even more is what the Shadow Minister didn’t bother to mention, which is that Aecon has also been given two very significant awards for its work in Quito.

The Canadian Construction Association (CCA) awarded Aecon its International Business Award for completing the Quito project. That is an award that “recognises the outstanding activities, programmes, and accomplishments … in the area of international business or trade”.

And Aecon’s new Quito International Airport was also named the “Leading Airport in South America” by World Travel Awards (WTA) at a recent awards ceremony in Quito, Ecuador.

The awards given out by WTA are known as “the Oscars of the travel industry”, which acknowledge and reward excellence in international tourism.

I guess praise for building an airport of very high quality doesn’t fit with the PLP’s intention to portray Aecon as a company bent on robbing the Bermudian taxpayer of everything it can get.

Bermudians should not be fooled by this kind of politically motivated distortion.