Following the announcement that Serbia had awarded France’s Vinci a 25-year concession to run Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla Airport, Bulgarian Minister of Transport Ivaylo Moskovski announced that the concession procedure for Sofia Airport will be re-launched, likely in February 2018.
The decision to start a new tender procedure was agreed upon during a meeting with the World Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, who may serve as consultants to the Bulgarian Government during the process. Ahead of the new tender procedure, legal and statistical analyses of the asset’s performance over the last three years will be conducted.
The Bulgarian government terminated the previous concession in mid-2017 on the grounds that the announced procedure did not sufficiently protect the public interest. During this process, no international marketing consultant was hired, and the lack of offers resulted in four consecutive deadline extensions.
Under the original tender terms announced in May 2016, the winner was required to make a minimum initial payment of BGN 550 million, pay a minimum annual concession fee of BGN 9.9 million, and invest a minimum of BGN 306 million in improvements. During the overall 35-year concession, the State was expected to earn BGN 2.676 billion. The tender winner would have been responsible for the reconstruction of the old terminal.
Sofia Airport is by far the largest in Bulgaria, serviced by over 30 commercial and cargo airlines with flights to 60 destinations in Europe and the Middle East. At the end of 2017, nearly 6.5 million passengers passed through this airport, which represents record traffic for the country, up an astonishing 30.3% from previous years. Constructed in 1937, the airport is the oldest civil air-transport hub in the country.