VARNA AIRPORT'S CONCESSION - A PRESENT OR AN INVESTMENT?
The Transport Minsitry's team has been trying lately to speed up the deal for the concessioning of the airports in Varna and Bourgas. A year after Transport Minister Plamen Petrov launched the idea of giving on concession the airports in Sofia, Varna and Bourgas, the plan is alerady clear. The airports in the two seaside towns will be concessioned together for a period of 35 years. The deal is expected to bring investments of EUR120MN within the first years. Amendments to the Civil Aviation Act sre to be passed soon in order to open the concession procedure itself. According to initial intentions, all had to be completed in January. So far 25 candidates have turned up. According to the Transport Minister, they are aces and are not only from Europe but from North America as well. Their names have not been made public, but it's not a secret that the British Wiggins Group, which announced its willingness to take the the Varna Airport, is among them. The British intend to invest about EUR90MN in the construction of a new terminal. More than a year ago an international consortium of six companies had also announecd interest in the Varna Airport. Among the partcipant in it were Credit Swiss First Boston, Montgomery Asset International, the airport in Coppenhagen, and Belgium's BIAK.Meanwhile, the feasibility study of the consulting company Barenz (which had been analysing the two airports for almost a year and a half now) completed. According to the consultants, at least USD100MN is necessary for the construction of terminals, parking lots, and warehouses for fuel. And the money shall not be utilized within a year. But is the Government's need of fresh money the only reason for undertaking such steps? The Varna Airport has always been a money-maker. Its 2002 profit exceeded BGN2.3MN, and some 1 million passengers from 50 countries were serviced by the airport. Whatever the reason, theer are no concessions yet, and the summer season will be opened in two weeks when the first guests will arrive in the Albena and Golden Sands resorts. And more than 20 flights have alerady been planed fro May 1. In end-February the Governor of Varna Yani Yanev proposed that the possibility of concessioning the two airports separately should be considered as well. Gossip in Varna has it that the conecssioning procedure has been long before decided and the winner has been picked up. Some MPs from Varna even began to speak about that. It seems thet only a signal is waited in order to raise the curtain.