CANDIDATES TO PRIVATISE HEMUS AIR TO UPDATE THEIR OFFERS
The four companies which applied for the privatisation of 51% of Hemus Air, will have to update their offers. In the end of last week PA sent out letters informing Pirin Tourist, Vega Airlines, Leasing Company and Albanian Airlines of the decision. On February 12, 2001 the four companies placed their offers for Hemus Airlines. The fifth applicant - Ibkol Bulgaria failed to pay the tender participation fee and was not admitted.
According to a PA official, updating of offers was due to the failure of Balkan Airlines, which started just two days after offers placement (The last Balkan Airlines plane grounded on February 14, 2001). Pretending to be surprised with the long expected end of the national flag carrier, the state officials at the General Aviation Administration with the Ministry of Transport and Communications and at the PA are delaying Hemus Air's privatisation procedure. The explanation offered by both institution is that they should not allow Hemus Air to experience the hardships of Balkan Airlines.
According to a PA expert, familiar with the letter sent to the applicants, one of the requirements was Hemus Air to continue its operation of the international and home lines it is currently servicing. Another requirement was the carrier to keep its main activities, to maintain the existing aircraft park and to replace each plane the resources of which have been fully used with a new one. The document does not clarify what a new one means: a newly produced one, a newly delivered one or a new type of aircraft. There was however another clear requirement: the buyer has to annually invest USD2MN - USD4MN for renewal of aircrafts it is operating.
Draft contracts which will be offered to the prospective buyers will probably include a special force majeure operation clause - in case of war, fire, earthquake, etc. Among the prerequisites was the traditional keeping of working places, but the requirement of increasing the number of employees proportionally to expansion of activities, has also been added.
Obviously Hemus Air will be sold out, even prior to the elections. PA officials even said they have heard June 8, 2001 as a deadline for finalising the privatisation. Yet, it was still to early to say which scheme will be employed.