Bulgaria’s government said on Wednesday it approved a decision to open a tender for awarding a concession contract for operation of Sofia International Airport. The decision was drafted by the transport minister, the government said in a statement without providing further details.
In June 2016, the transport ministry launched a tender for a 35-year Sofia Airport concession contract, seeking at least 550 million levs ($326.7 million/281.2 million euro) as a one-off upfront payment. The tender was cancelled in April 2017 by the then caretaker government, which said that the concession woild lead to a rise in airport charges and a decline of passenger traffic.
After the current coalition government took office in May 2017, transport minister Ivaylo Moskovski said it intends to relaunch the tender and use the revenue from the concession to provide aid to indebted state-owned railways operator BDZ Holding.
Following Moskovski’s commitment to relaunch the procedure, German airport operator Fraport announced it was still very interested in winning a concession contract for operating Sofia Airport.
In 2006, Fraport Twin Star Airport Management, a 60/40 joint venture of Fraport and Bulgarian company BM Star, won a 35-year concession to manage the two airports.
Earlier this year, Bulgaria’s transport ministry said it will sign a 35-year concession contract for Plovdiv Airport with a tie-up comprising China-based HNA Group and Plovdiv Airport Invest company.
According to latest available statistics from the airport operator, passenger traffic at Sofia Airport rose by an annual 7.6% to 600,000 in April. Take-offs and landings at Sofia Airport totalled 5,274 in April, up 11% year-on-year. Cargo volume increased by 9.1% year-on-year to 1,770 tonnes in April. In 2017, Sofia Airport serviced 6.49 million passengers, up 30.3% year-on-year.