With Puerto Rico moving to privatize its largest airport, a Brazilian company that operates restaurants in Latin American airports has enlisted the lobbying help of some of Atlanta-based Alston & Bird’s biggest names in Washington.
International Meal Co., which does business in Puerto Rico as Airport Shoppes Corp., is using more than a half-dozen Alston lobbyists, including former Senator Bob Dole, R-Kan., former Representatives Billy Tauzin, R-La., and Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., and four others to advocate for it on the U.S. commonwealth’s privatization plan for San Juan’s Luís Muñoz Marín International Airport and “related federal issues,” according to lobbying registration paperwork the law firm has filed with Congress. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration this year is expected to approve a $2.6 billion deal that would allow Puerto Rico to hand over the airport’s operations to Aerostar Airport Holdings LLC.
But International Meal has concerns about the agreement.
Juan Comulada, International Meal’s chief operating officer, said in September that hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs would disappear with the privatization of the airport, Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Día reported. He said Aerostar would close some of the airport’s terminals, including one that houses International Meal’s Margaritaville restaurant.
Dole, a special counsel at Alston; Tauzin, a senior legislative counsel; and Pomeroy, a senior counsel, weren’t available for comment. The other Alston lobbyists on the account also couldn’t be reached for comment. They are partner Robert Jones, counsel Jeffrey Sural and senior policy advisers Robert Siggins and Robert Holifield.