A public call was announced for a 25-year concession to operate Serbia’s largest airport, state-controlled Aerodrom Nikola Tesla (ANT), on February 10.
The concession of ANT is seen as vital for its future and strategically important for the country’s development, as there are plans to turn the airport into the main regional hub for the Western Balkans. The deal is expected to be the largest in Serbia in 2017, and the largest in the country’s infrastructure sector in recent years.
ANT has benefitted from a hike in passenger numbers following Etihad Airways’ investment in troubled local flag carrier JAT, which has since been rebranded Air Serbia.
Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic previously announced that a 25-year concession contract for the airport would bring in a €350mn-€400mn advance payment and a further €10mn-€11mn every year.
French consultancy firm Lazard Freres has already been selected as privatisation advisor.
The government and ANT said they had invited all interested parties to submit bids, the public call posted on ANT’s website reads.
The tender will not be open to holders of a 20% or larger stake in any airport directly competing with ANT, namely within a 450 kilometre radius of Belgrade. This would exclude operators of Croatia’s Pleso airport as well as Turkish conglomerate TAV, which manages airports in Macedonia.
The Serbian parliament passed a bill on airport management on December 22, which creates conditions for airports to be offered for concession as a way of securing funds for development and commercialisation of airports in the country.
Besides ANT, the country’s second largest airport, Konstantin Veliki Airport in the southern town of Nis, also an international airport. However, its privatisation has not been announced yet.
Both airports beat previous records in 2016. ANT hit a new record in terms of passenger numbers in 2016 when over 4.92mn people travelled via the airport. This broke the 2015 record of 4.78mn passengers. According to the latest data, on average 13,492 passengers used Belgrade’s airport services per day, which is equal to 562 passengers per hour.
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