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British airport group left waiting as Bulgarian hub delayed for fourth time

outside sofia airport 20090409 018

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) has again been left waiting to submit its bid to run Sofia Airport after the Bulgarian Government delayed the tender process for a fourth time to accomodate other potential bidders.

New Civil Engineer understands that MAG was poised to submit its proposal only to be told that the procurement process was being pushed back again at the request of rival bidders. 

The deadline for the 35-year concession has been extended to 3 April after the Bulgarian transport ministry revealed that potential bidders had requested more time. 

The previous deadline was for today (5 February), after earlier deadlines of 29 January, 22 November 2018 and 22 October last year had been scrapped.

The ministry gave no reasons for its earlier deadline postponements, but it did say that the most recent delay had been requested by interested bidders.

MAG, which already operates three major airports in the UK, last year announced it had plans to bid. A MAG spokesman told New Civil Engineer that the group had not been one of the bidders to ask for for a concession extension and was ready to submit its submission on February 5.

Other parties understood to be interested in the deal are India’s GMR Group, Germany’s Fraport, France’s Aéroports de Paris, Switzerland’s Flughaven Zürich and Spain’s Aena in a joint bid with Australia’s First State.

The tender, which was relaunched in July last year, as the Bulgarian government made a second attempt to pick an operator for Sofia Airport. Bids were first invited in 2016 by then Bulgarian prime minister Boiko Borissov. There were several more delays before the project was scrapped by a caretaker government in March 2017.

The Bulgarian government aims to charge the winning bidder around €550M (£482M) to operate airport.

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