Greek company shows interest in running Belgrade Airport
The Greek based Copelouzos Group has shown interest in purchasing a stake in Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport. While the airport in not formally on sale, the government has indicated plans to privatise it this year. Copelouzos is one of the shareholders in St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo Airport and took part in the construction of its new terminal last year. In addition, the group has invested in other airports in Greece and Europe. Together with Fraport, the company is one of seven investors to recently prequalify for the second phase of the tender for the management, development, expansion, maintenance and operation of regional airports in Greece.
Copelouzos’ interest in Belgrade Airport was revealed earlier this week by Simeon Comokos, head of the Serbian-Greek Business Council. “The company which owns 5% in a Greek airport and also has a stake in Saint Petersburg Airport is interested in participating in the privatisation of Belgrade Airport, if the airport is privatised”, Mr. Comokos said. In December last year the Serbian government revealed plans to award Etihad Airways a twenty year concession contract to operate Belgrade Airport. The announcement was greeted with an angry reaction from trade unions who complained Etihad would have a monopoly over the Serbian aviation industry if it is awarded the concession.
It is believed the concession of Belgrade Airport could be part of the secretive agreement between the Serbian government and Etihad for the takeover of Jat Airways, signed in August last year. According to plans outlined by the government, Etihad will run Serbia’s busiest airport over the next twenty years under the condition it builds a new passenger terminal, runway, airport hotel and car park. Last year Serbia’s former Finance and Economy Minister Mladjan Dinkić, who is now serving as the Deputy President of the Committee for Cooperation with the UAE, announced plans for the airport to be put up for concession in early 2014.
Further developments regarding the airport’s sale are expected shortly after next Sunday’s snap parliamentary elections in Serbia, in which the main ruling party pushing for the airport’s privatisation is expected to win in a landslide. Belgrade Airport is one of the prized possessions among Serbia’s public sector with a healthy profit and constant passenger and revenue growth.