Bulgaria’s government decided on Wednesday to award the concession of the airport in Plovdiv, the country’s second largest city, officials say.
At a ministerial meeting, a previous announcement by Transport Minister Ivaylo Moskovski was confirmed that envisages the opening of a procedure to grant a 35-year concession (the maximum initial length under Bulgarian law) on the airport.
The aim is to “attract a financially stable investor with experience in the management, exploitation and development of airports” that will also contribute to the improvement of the existing infrastructure in line with current international standards, according to the government’s press office.
A future investor should also help “transfer management know-how, generate traffic and develop commercial activities in the area”.
A new cargo terminal should be set up and operated by a future investor.
The set of criteria to be used in evaluating the bidders includes the size of annual concession fees (40% of the final evaluation), the investment program (35%), and a management and development program (25%).
Moskovski on Tuesday said potential investors from China and Turkey, alongside hotel and ski resort infrastructure owner Pamporovo AD, had expressed interest.
For months, the airport of Plovdiv has been marked by staff shortage. Last year it switched from around-the-clock working time to shifts until 22:00, causing trouble to passengers of two flights that performed emergency landing there around midnight. Currently, only two airlines perform flights to and from the airport, namely Irish Ryanair and Israeli Arkia.
Plovdiv, on the other hand, has been an increasingly attractive business destination over the past year, with billions in investment poured into the city’s economy by foreign and domestic companies. It was also selected in 2014 to be European Capital of Culture 2019 together with Matera in Italy.
Initially, concessions for Plovdiv Airport and Sofia Airport were to be announced by the end of 2015, but the decision was postponed for March (for Sofia, no new timeframe has been set to adopt a decision, and the next cabinet meeting is on April 6).
Early last year, ministers had speculated that a Chinese company already working in a bustling economic zone in Plovdiv was interested in being awarded the concession.
In January, the concession of Gorna Oryahovitsa Airport was granted to the sole bidder.