Today, 17 May 2016, the Bulgarian Government will vote on a decision to open a tender for a concession on the Sofia International Airport. The state seeks an upfront payment of BGN 600 million (circa EUR 300 million).
Sofia International Airport is the largest airport in Bulgaria and is currently operated by a wholly state-owned company. In April 2016, the airport saw a 13% increase of passengers compared to April 2015, reaching a total of 367,696 passengers for the period. Processed cargo also increased by 50.6% over the same period.
Initially, it was thought that the government planned to launch the airport tender after Bulgaria implemented its new Concessions Act, which fully implements the new Directive 2014/23/EU on the award of concession contracts. However, it seems that the cabinet sees this to be an urgent concession and is ready to conduct the procedure under the existing rules; the new Concessions Act might take several months to become effective legislation.
The initial financial model of the Sofia International Airport concession envisaged a 35 year concession term, while the new Concessions Act provides for a maximum concessions term of 25 years. Therefore, if the Government applies the current regulations, the future operator would benefit from a longer maximum term of its concession rights.
According to local media, several foreign-based companies have already expressed interest in participating in the tender, including Munich Airport, Spain’s Ferrovial and an unnamed South Korean company.