Bulgaria has invited bids in a new tender to pick a concession operator for the country’s largest airport in the capital city of Sofia, with the official tender notice published in EU’s Official Journal on July 5.
The invitation for bids comes a month after the country’s Cabinet approved the terms of concession and more than a year after a caretaker government cancelled the previous tender, citing “objective factors” that were not taken into account when making the decision to open proceedings.
The updated tender requirements feature several major changes compared to the earlier proceedings. The concession period is once again 35 years, but now have an option to extend the period by one third, and the upfront payment was kept unchanged – at least 550 million leva (about 281.2 million euro).
Prospective bidders must have experience operating at least one international airport with an annual passenger traffic flow of at least 10 million people (compared to six million people in the earlier tender).
In judging the offers, the most important factor would be the size of the concession payments, which would account for 55 per cent of the final score (same as in the earlier tender). Technical criteria will account for the remainder 45 per cent, compared to the earlier tender, which featured separate business proposal, investment and security components.
The annual concession fee was raised to at least 10 per cent of the airport’s revenues or 15 million leva, whichever is higher. Previously, Bulgaria asked for an annual fee of seven per cent of revenue or 10 million leva, whichever is higher.
Bulgaria’s transport ministry said that the increased fees were based on higher passenger numbers registered by the airport since the previous tender invitation in 2016. Last year, Sofia Airport serviced just short of 6.5 million passengers, an annual increase of 30 per cent, thanks to the continued expansion of low-cost airlines’ operations.
Another major departure is the requirement to build a third terminal at the airport by the end of the tenth year of the concession, thus keeping the old Terminal 1, currently in use mainly by low-cost airlines, in operation.
The previous tender envisioned the construction of a new Terminal 1 with seven jetways, with an annual passenger flow capacity of at least three million people. The new tender also envisions the potential expansion of Terminal 2 and a requirement that the future concessionaire carries out a study by the end of the fifth year to assess whether the airport needs a second runway.
The deadline for binding bids in the tender is October 22 2018.