Банкеръ Weekly


Sofia Airport Buys Useless Snowploughs

Nearly 1.2 million euro will pay Sofia Airport for two new snowplows. The contract was signed on December 29 last year with the Swiss company Marcel Boschung. The selected contractor is one of the oldest and most reputable providers of specialized cleaning aerotechnical equipment on the Old Continent. The question is: was there a need at Sofia airport for such equipment?
The BANKER’s sources familiar with the works of the airport, consider that the airport has sufficient in numbers snowplows and does not need new ones. They recalled the case of large snowstorms in early 2012 when thanks precisely to the rotor machines of the state company the frozen Hemus highway was cleared.

A check with the Public Procurement Agency also showed that in recent years, the airport periodically ordered such specialized equipment. In 2009 again it signed a contract with Marcel Boschung for two pieces of combined cleaning machines - large plows, for the sum of 1,598,250 euros (excluding VAT) plus delivery of anti-icing machine for the runways against the amount of another 557,000 euros. In 2012 it announced a contract to supply two high-tech cleaning machines for the runways, the taxiways and the platform in winter. The provider then was the Norwegian company Overaasen, which was paid over 1.5 million euros. It turns out that in less than five years, Sofia Airport has been furnished with six new snowploughs for nearly 4.3 million euros. Given the fact how long the winter in Bulgaria is, such investment does not seem particularly justified.

However, as we have noted, the Agency for State Financial Inspection is checking the airport for the announced in recent years procedures and contracts signed with them winners. It will be interesting to see the results of the Agency’s work, especially since the financial position of the company today is not to be envied. The airport lost a huge share of the home market and dramatically contracted revenues and profits. And all this happened at the backdrop of the newly opened Terminal 2 at the end of 2006 and the increase in the number of passengers to over 3 million per year and the fact that the airport is providing promotional and commercial premises comparable in space to those of some of the largest malls in the country. In 2007 it reported a profit of 21.856 million levs, and in 2008 – an impressive 30.212 million levs. Then the crisis hit also the aviation sector and the profit for 2009 shrank to 14.9 million levs while in 2010 it was only slightly better – 15.334 million levs, but again going down in 2011 to 12.27 million levs to reach in 2012 to just 9.44 million levs. But it turned out that the situation may be even worse. The situation in 2013 improved. The reported profit was 12.526 million levs, but 7.935 million levs of the sum came from non-specific activity of the company and in particular from the sale of land that is - without this amount the annual profit of the enterprise would have collapsed to the tiny 4.5 million levs. The situation continued to deteriorate and in 2014 - for the first nine months Sofia Airport recorded a mediocre financial result of 3.972 million levs.

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