Bulgaria’s Cabinet approved the proposed tender to offer a 35-year concession on the Sofia Airport, Transport Minister Ivailo Moskovski told reporters after the government meeting on May 17.
He declined to give further details, saying that the official tender notice would be published within a week, but said that the parameters of the deal were in line with what has been announced before. The Cabinet will seek a large upfront concession payment, thought to be at least 600 million leva, or about 306.7 million euro, that will be used to cover debts of state railways BDZ and to buy new rolling stock for the railways.
The main departure from the original intentions appears to be the length of the concession. The Cabinet had tabled a bill extending the maximum length of such agreements to 99 years and planned to tender Sofia Airport under the new rules, but the bill appears to have run into opposition in Parliament and the tender will run under current rules, which set the maximum concession period at 35 years.
Moskovski said that the bids deadline was the end of September and that the government hoped to finalise the deal by the end of the year.
Sofia Airport is the country’s largest airport by far and is the second put up for concession this year, with a tender for the Plovdiv Airport approved by the Cabinet on March 30.
Two other major airports in Bulgaria are already under concession, in the Black Sea cities of Varna and Bourgas, managed by Germany’s Fraport. Both have seen a steady increase in the number of passengers over the past decade, as they are used by charter flights ferrying tourists on their way to Black Sea resorts.