SEASIDE AIRPORTS WAIT FOR CONCESSIONAIRE
The future concessionaire of the airports in Varna and Bourgas will have to raise their category, the Minister of Transport Nikolay Vassilev said on March 8, when the bids for the two airports were opened. Offers were submitted by the Danish Copenhagen Airports company and by three consortiums: one between the French Vinci Airports and Vinci Concessions, another between the German Hochtief Airport and the Bulgarian Albena AD, and a third one between the German Fraport AG Frankfurt Airport Services Worldwide and the Varna-based BM Star. The only applicant that gave up competing was a consortium of the French Aeroport de Paris and the Kuwaiti Mohamed Abdulmohsin Al-Kharafi (a company that is taking part in the project for enlargement of the Sofia Airport). The two airports on the Black Sea coast will be given on concession for a 35-year period.The financial parametres of the offers were not announced, but the requirements towards the future winner were explained in details. The Bourgas airport should reach a 4E general category, its fire safety should be raised from 7 to 8, and the customers services need to get a C category. These are the criteria met by a medium-sized European airport. As to the airport in Varna, the conditions are the same with one exception - it needs to reach a 4D category because its flight strip is shorter than the one in Bourgas. Aviation experts explained to the BANKER weekly that the current condition of both airports is much below the European norms, especially regarding their services to passengers. According to the International Aviation Transport Association (IATA) criteria, in order for an airport to get the lowest E category for services to passengers it needs to provide each passenger with 1 sq m in the registration and luggage area as well as with at least 1.2 sq m in the luggage receipt area. The Varna airport is far from meeting these requirements with respectively provided 0.33 sq m and 0.21 sq m. Apart from modernising the airports, the concessionaire will have to ensure their operations through the whole year, 24 hours a day, and pay regularly the established concession amount to the State. In return, it will be allowed to collect airport fees and revenues from accompanying activities (shops, restaurants, hotels, etc.) We expect the investments in the two airports to reach EUR100-150MN and their management to improve. If the procedure ends successfully, this will be the first concessioning of public state property, Minister Vassilev said.By March 15, the commission that he is presiding will review the offers submitted and if necessary, will ask for explanations. They will have to be presented before the end of March. The proposal for a winner in the competition will be presented to the Council of Ministers by April 24. The future private owner of the two airports will be chosen by the present Government. It will be selected on the basis of three criteria, of which the promised investment amount will be the most important one as it will form 40% of the assessment. The business plan including social and ecological components, operation and maintenance, safety and security issues, will provide 30 per cent. Another 30% will be determined by the proposed concession payment.Within a month following the signing of the agreement, the winner has to pay a EUR3MN single concession remuneration. Besides, he is going to pay the state an annual fee amounting to 12-18% of all revenues reported by the Varna and Bourgas airports.