Bulgaria signs concession contract for Sofia Airport

Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boiko Borissov and Transport Minister Rossen Zhelyazkov attended on July 22 the signing of the concession contract for Sofia Airport with Sof Connect, the consortium that includes French infrastructure investor Meridiam and Munich Airport.

The signing comes a year after the Transport Ministry picked the winner in its concession tender, delayed by challenges lodged by other bidders at the Commission for Protection of Competition, which endorsed the ministry’s decision, and an appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court, which last month upheld the competition regulator’s ruling.

Sof Connect was chosen ahead of consortia fronted by Manchester Airports Group and Aéroports de Paris, Germany’s Fraport and the tie-up between Swiss-based SSB Sauerwein & Schaefer and Copenhagen Airports.

Meridiam and Munich Airport ranked third in terms of the annual concession fee with a bid of 24.5 million euro, but it offered an ambitious plan for growing Sofia Airport’s infrastructure, committing to invest 608 million euro, and passenger traffic.

(Photo: government.bg)

In its bid, Sof Connect said it targeted raising passenger numbers to 8.8 million by 2022, 12.3 million by 2030 and 18 million by 2040. The Transport Ministry did not say whether the contract signed on July 22 had the same targets, which could be more difficult to achieve given the disruption suffered by the aviation industry due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Called in July 2018, this was Bulgaria’s second attempt to select a concessionaire for the country’s largest air hub. The first process, launched in 2016 by the previous Borissov administration, saw repeated delays before it was scrapped by a caretaker government in March 2017.

(Main photo: Bulgarian Interior Ministry)

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