Tender on Istanbul's third airport set for take off

By bne IntelliNews January 18, 2013

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Ankara is set to kick off the tender process on Istanbul's third airport - which it claims will be the world's largest - within a week, an official said on January 17.

The groundwork for the project is complete and the government will start advertising it in preparation for the bidding process, Transport Minister Binali Yildirim said, according to the state-run Anatolia news agency. "I think we will announce [the tender] in one week," the minister said at an Istanbul meeting according to Reuters. The project will be Turkey's largest public-private sector operation, he noted.

The country's economy administration is working on fine tuning the project, and an announcement in the Official Gazette may be published by the middle of the next week, sources told Reuters. Yildirim has said that the first phase of the third airport will open in 2016, and that it will have an eventual capacity of 150m passengers per year.

The new facility is desperately needed to ease a capacity crunch in the rapidly developing country. Turkey more than tripled the number of passengers in its airports to more than 130m in the past decade, Dow Jones reports. Meanwhile, Istanbul's first airport - Ataturk, hub for the world's fastest growing carrier Turkish Airlines - is already over capacity and suffers from chronic delays just a decade or so after operator TAV Airports expanded it.

Foreign firms are looking for local partners for the eagerly anticipated tender, separate sources had earlier said. TAV - which sold a 38% stake to France's Aeroports de Paris for $874m in May - has said that it will bid for the project. Other companies to have expressed interest include Limak Holding, which operates Istanbul's second airport Sabiha Gokcen, and Alarko Holding among others.

However, the market believes there's only one likely winner of the tender. Yildirim's words drove the shares of TAV to their highest for over five years on January 17, reports Bloomberg, rising 1.5% to TRY10.20 by the close in Istanbul.

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