Zagreb Airport’s general manager, Tonči Peović, has confirmed that an Aéroports de Paris (ADP) led consortium will take over responsibility for running the Croatian gateway in early May.
The consortium – which comprises ADP subsidiary Aéroports de Paris Management (ADPM) and French construction company Bouygues Bâtiment International – was the only one of the 10 bidders for the gateway to meet all requirements demanded by the Croatian government.
Its reward is a 30-year concession, which is expected to be ratified in the next few weeks, paving the way for the contract for the management and development of the airport to taken over by the Zagreb Airport International Company (ZAIC).
As part of the soon-to-be-ratified deal, the consortium has pledged to invest €236 million on building a new 5mppa capacity terminal within 36 months of signing the contract.
A record 2.4 million (+12%) passed through Croatia’s capital city gateway in 2011.
In addition to being bigger and better than the existing terminal it will replace, the new facility will boast more shops and restaurants as the gateway bids to boost its commercial income as non-aeronautical activities currently only account for 12% of its revenue.
As well as the new terminal, the ZAIC funded upgrade will include the construction of new apron and taxiways and access roads.
The concession is the nation’s first public-private partnership (PPP) deal for an airport and Peović, who moved from Dubrovnik Airport to prepare the gateway for privatisation ahead of Croatia’s 2013 accession to the European Union, describes it as a “win-win” situation for his country.
“We are already operating close to capacity, and with passenger traffic expected to double to five million passengers per annum over the next 10 years, a new terminal is an absolute priority,” says Peović.
“Croatia’s joining the European Union next year is expected to lead to double-digit increases in passenger numbers for the next few years followed by a period of more sustainable annual growth of four to five percent. In terms of building new infrastructure, there is no time to waste.”
The Croatian government’s tough set of requirements for potential investors was based on the lessons learned from previous failed privatisation processes for Zagreb, and Peović's own personal knowledge of the sale of Bourgas and Varna airports in Bulgaria when the award of an operating concession had to be reversed following complaints from a losing bidder.
ADPM’s investment partner Bouygues Bâtiment already has a presence in Croatia following a handful of road construction projects in the Istria region.