Serbia’s Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure Zorana Mihajlovic announced on March 13 that 27 companies responded to Belgrade’s public call for a 25-year concession to operate Serbia’s largest airport, state-controlled Aerodrom Nikola Tesla (ANT).
The airport hit a new record in terms of the number of passengers in 2016, which could be an important parameter for the eventual concession partner. Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said in December that a 25-year concession contract would bring a €350mn-€400mn advance payment and a further €10mn-€11mn every year.
Mihajlovic told daily Kurir on March 13 that among the bidders are prominent companies from Germany, France, China, Russia, Turkey, Switzerland, India, Korea and Greece. However, she didn’t reveal the names of any bidders. The deadline for bid submissions expired on March 10.
“With such competitors, it won’t be an easy task for the government to choose the best one,” Mihajlovic said, adding that the "huge interest" in ANT is the best proof that the airport will maintain its leading position in the region.
“We have decided to not sell the airport but to go for a concession and I expect that we will get excellent conditions for Belgrade airport and for our country,” she added.
In February, Vucic discussed the issue with the Minister-President of the German state of Hesse, Volker Bouffier, about the possibility of German transportation company Fraport AG submitting a bid for the concession, according to Tanjug. Several major French companies including Vinci are also among those rumoured to be interested in the airport.
Both the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EIB) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have expressed an interest in supporting the privatisation of the airport.
The steady increase in passenger numbers passing through ANT has been helped by the expansion of flag carrier AirSerbia.
Air Serbia, a 51/49 joint venture between the Serbian state and Etihad Airways, emerged as a rebranded company following the August 2013 deal between Serbia and Etihad for the revitalisation of troubled Jat. It announced a third year of operational growth in 2016, driven by the launch of new routes, including to New York, and the introduction of a new wide-body aircraft.
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