Dozens of people protested Thursday in Puerto Rico's capital against a deal that gives a private firm a 40-year concession to operate San Juan's Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport.

During the demonstration, organized by the group People United in Defense of the Airport, opponents of the lease deal gathered outside the headquarters of the Puerto Rico Ports Authority and called for the dismissal of that agency's director, Victor Suarez.

The group's spokesman, Juan Camacho, said the Ports Authority needs a public servant to manage it and not a liquidator.

Thursday's gathering marked the start of a series of protests against the contract on the U.S. commonwealth. On Sunday, a march is to be staged to the entrance of the airport, where demonstrators will demand that the deal be scrapped.

The administration of then-Gov. Luis Fortuño, who was defeated in November's general elections, last year awarded the contract to operate and upgrade the San Juan airport to Aerostar Airport Holdings, a 50-50 joint venture between Highstar Capital, an infrastructure investment firm, and Mexican airport management firm Grupo Aeroportario del Sureste.

Current Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla's administration has said it will honor the contract.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is expected to give the green light for the deal when it hands down its decision in the coming weeks. EFE