Bulgaria opens concession tender for Plovdiv Airport
Bulgaria’s Cabinet approved on March 30 the proposed tender to offer a 35-year concession on the Plovdiv Airport, the government media office said in a statement.
The government aims to bring in a “financially-stable investor with experience in the management, operation and development of airports”. The specific targets include the construction of a modern cargo terminal and the further development of airport infrastructure, which would allow the airport to be used by large cargo jets.
The statement did not specify the deadline for submitting bids, but said that offers would be judged based on the annual concession fee, which would account for 40 per cent of the final score, investment commitment (35 per cent) and the proposed management and operation programme (25 per cent).
Although the initial concession period is 35 years, the maximum allowed under current Bulgarian legislation, Transport Minister Ivailo Moskovski said on March 29 that the timeframe of the contract could be extended should Bulgarian Parliament approve amendments that would increase the legal limit on concession contracts. A bill in that sense is already being drafted and could be tabled in the near future, Moskovski said during a roundtable discussion on transport policy.
He said that the concession tender has already attracted the attention of several prospective investors, including the operator of the nearby Pamporovo winter resort. He did not name the other potential bidders, but said that the interested parties hailed from China, Hong Kong and Turkey.
Two other major airports currently under concession, in the Black Sea cities of Varna and Bourgas, which are managed by Germany’s Fraport, 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.
Plovdiv is currently used mainly by several no-frills airlines, most notably Ireland’s Ryanair, which used the airport as its only destination in Bulgaria until recently.
The bigger prize for potential investors would be the Sofia Airport, the country’s largest airport by far. The government plans to call a concession tender for the Sofia Airport in the near future, possibly as early as mid-April, Moskovski said on March 29.