Aerocivil, Colombia’s national aviation authority, is to take over the operation of Barranquilla’s Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport on February 29, the government has revealed.
In a statement, the country’s transport ministry, Mintransporte, said that it was “unfeasible” to extend the current airport concession – which is currently held by Aeropuertos del Caribe (Acsa) – and as a result Aerocivil will operate the airport until another suitable concessionaire is found.
The airport is located in Barranquilla, the capital of the country’s Atlántico department.
According to the transport ministry, Aerocivil will invest 13 billion pesos ($7.3m) during 2012 on improvements at the gateway.
Meanwhile, the National Infrastructure Agency (NIA) has been appointed by the government for the structuring and awarding of the new concession, but no date has been set for the bidding process.
The decision for Aerocivil to take over the airport was made following a year-long review process, which, according to BNamericas, concluded that Acsa had ‘failed to meet the necessary standards’.
Acsa is controlled by the Barranquilla chamber of commerce, cement firm Cementos Argos, fuel distributors Promigás and Terpel del Norte, Sociedad Portuaria de Barranquilla and Guido Nule, a member of the Nule group.
Aerocivil awarded the 15-year concession to Acsa in 1997 for 9.4bn pesos based on a 1996 exchange rate – $5.2mn today.
According to BNAmericas, the contract included an option to extend the concession, which was denied by Aerocivil in September 2010.
Colombian newspaper El Tiempo reported that Aerocivil found that the revenue generated by the terminal was not enough to proceed with necessary upgrades.
Acsa filed a lawsuit against Aerocivil for 40bn pesos in damages and loss of income. The concessionaire won the lawsuit in the first hearing, after which Aerocivil appealed.