Argentina to invest $1.5 bln in airport improvements through 2019

BUENOS AIRES, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Argentina will invest 22.2 billion pesos ($1.47 billion) over the next three years to modernize the country’s airports to increase passenger capacity and boost air cargo shipments, the country’s transportation minister said on Wednesday.

The plan comes as center-right President Mauricio Macri, who took office in December, seeks to improve the country’s infrastructure in order to attract foreign investment. The government had previously announced a $7 billion infrastructure plan.

Most of the money will go toward modernization efforts to boost capacity at 19 airports, with the aim of doubling the number of passengers traveling on domestic flights.

Currently, 54,000 people pass through Argentina’s airports daily.

The plan aims to increase commercial capacity at airports in remote regions to facilitate exports of local agricultural products. Argentina’s rail capacity lags far behind rival agricultural powerhouses like Brazil and the United States, increasing the cost and time it takes to ship products to ports.

Last month, billionaire Eduardo Eurnekian told a Reuters summit he was eyeing a $1 billion listing in New York for the network of domestic airports that his company, Corporacion America, controls in the country. ($1 = 15.1310 Argentine pesos) (Reporting by Luc Cohen; Editing by Sandra Maler)