|Serbia sets up single airport operator in a bid to attract investors|
The Serbian government has established the state-run "Airports of Serbia" company which will manage up to 25 of the country’s airports. It comes over a year after the operator was initially planned to commence work. The move is believed to be in relation to the upcoming concession of Serbia’s busiest airport, through which the future operator could also gain control to the rest of the country’s airport infrastructure. The head of Belgrade Airport's Development Department, Predrag Babić, has been named as the acting CEO of Airports of Serbia. The company will officially start operations during the first half of February and will initially have two employees.
Airports that will be operated by the new state-run enterprise include Niš, Kraljevo and Užice. In a statement, the Ministry for Construction, Transport and Infrastructure, said, “The operator will utilise existing infrastructure at larger military and joint-use airports in Serbia, which could be used for the transport of passengers and cargo. Furthermore, the operator will look into developing new airports and improving security at smaller ones. By developing smaller airports, as well as our busiest, we will improve passenger numbers and boost tourism and traffic”. The Ministry states the company's first objective will be the opening of Kraljevo's Morava Airport. The government plans for it to open for commercial use by mid-2016. Located in central Serbia, the airport’s terminal building was completed in 2012 but has been closed ever since.
The creation of a state-run operator for Serbia’s airports could increase Belgrade Airport’s concession price. Earlier this month, the Serbian Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vučić, said the airport will either be privatised or put up for concession by the end of this year. He noted that procedures to select a privatisation advisor have been scrapped and the government will now enter direct negotiations with a potential advisor. The move comes after six interested parties were unhappy with the offered reimbursement fees. According to Mr Vučić, the airport's concession fee could fetch up to 500 million euros. Recently, sources close to the Turkish-based TAV Airports Holding said it was in talks to purchase rights to operate the airport, with further details to be revealed next month. Meanwhile, Serbian press say that while TAV is in the race, France's Vinci Airports remains the front-runner for the concession rights.