Notice of Concession Award Procedure for Sofia Airport Published in EU Official Journal

A notice for the opening of a concession award procedure for Sofia Airport was published Thursday in the Official Journal of the EU. It is a mixed-type concession, which includes provision of services relating to the operation of the airport and construction of a new terminal.

The estimated value of the concession is 3,465,927,509.03 euro pre-VAT.

The concession will be awarded for a period of 35 years. The construction works for Terminal 3 are due to be completed by the 10th year of the concession period.

No EU funds are going to be used.

Transport Minister Ivaylo Moskovski said Thursday that an upfront payment of 550 million leva or more will be expected, a well as investment of no less than 600 million euro throughout the concession period. The annual concession royalties expected for each year of the concession shall be no less than 15 million leva pre-VAT or 10 per cent of the turnover from all activities for the respective year, whichever is more.

The Minister has said earlier that the bidders will be required to be operating at least one international airport with over 10 million passengers a year; to have a net worth of their assets of at least 200 million euro in each of the past three years; to have experience with financing one or more projects in the infrastructure sector, worth 400 million euro or more.

A concession award procedure for Sofia Airport was first opened in 2016. The government's idea then was to get 500 million leva pre-VAT or more in upfront concession royalties and use the money to repay BDZ's debts and purchase trains. The Socialists have used every opportunity to slam the concession plans, as did the trade unions and the airport employees. The concession procedure was called off in 2017 by a caretaker government.

Socialists fear scenario for reducing Sofia Airport to subsidiary facility

The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) said Thursday that it has information about arrangements being made for a Turkish operator to win the concession contract for Sofia Airport, in which case it may become a subsidiary airport and raise passenger fees. Socialist MP Elena Yoncheva told a news briefing in the National Assembly Thursday that the world's largest airport will become operational in the European part of Istanbul in a few months. Turkey, as a neighbour to Bulgaria, would stand to gain nothing from the existence of a competitive airport in Sofia, Yoncheva argued.

"We also received information that drastic staff cuts are planned at the airport," she said. "Moreover, employees have been threatened into silence, or else they may be fired right now." The BSP suspects plans for service prices at Sofia Airport to be raised.

Yoncheva also said that BSP For Bulgaria will petition the Supreme Administrative Court against the government's refusal to update the National Assembly on the conditions of the future concession. "We have also submitted a draft resolution to Parliament to require the Transport Ministry to terminate the concession procedure," she added.

The group is preparing legislative changes to ensure that facilities which are important for national security and are on the "no privatization" list may not be operated under a concession contract.

Source: BTA

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