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For 51 years Bergstrom Air Force Base was home to fighter pilots bombers troop carriers and reconnaissance jets It was the first port of call for President Lyndon B Johnson on his trips home to LBJ Country aboard Air Force One it was where Chuck Yeager the first pilot to break the sound barrier once brought a disabled jet to rest in an emergency landing In September 1993 in the path of military cutbacks Bergstrom Air Force Base was closed But the timing was fortuitous because the closure came as the city of Austin Texas was considering where to build a new airport In 1993 the expected economic loss to Austin from the Bergstrom closure was estimated at 406 million a year and a loss of some 1000 jobs But with the possibility of utilizing the prior Bergstrom Air Force Base as an airport the Austin economy was expected to have an opportunity to rebound and even improve these results from the base closure by privatizing the airport The trend worldwide toward airport privatization presents an exciting and dynamic opportunity for the flying public governments operators and investors The overall success of privatization of airports has been seen by the sale of long-term leases for three of the largest airports in Australia for 26 billion Following this success the Government of Australia announced their plans to privatize fifteen more airports Several Latin American airports already are in private hands Major airports in Argentina Chile Colombia Ecuador Mexico Peru Uruguay and Venezuela are already concessioned or scheduled for privatization over the next two years Smaller airports in Central America and the Caribbean also are to be privatized In Europe a significant number airports have been privatized and opportunities are imminent in Germany Portugal and elsewhere Governments in Southeast Asia Africa and the world over also are developing airport privatization plans Why has this marked trend emerged
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