Just as we thought there was some progress being made toward the opening of Corvera Airport Management Company Aena, which operates the large majority of airports in Spain, had muddied the waters rather by lodging an appeal with TARC, the tribunal responsible for overseeing government contracts, in which it objects to many of the conditions set out in the tender.
It states that they are discriminatory, far too generous to the potential bidders and that companies now require a much lower level of management expertise and financial stability than was previously he case.
Following Aena’s objections the tender process has now been suspended.
Aena have also clearly refused to guarantee that they will close San Javier airport, which they currently manage.
This recent move and the subsequent statement from Aena could now deter many of the potential bidders from entering the process to secure the airport management contract.
There is also an ongoing legal battle between the Murcia Government and Sacyr, the first company to win the management contract back in 2007, to consider, which is now about to enter the high court.
Things had been looking to move ahead when, 3 weeks ago, the Murcia government took steps to boost the fortunes of the region’s tourist industry by putting the management contract of the International Corvera Airport out to tender.
But despite the appeal, those companies still wishing to pursue the tender still have another week to register their interest.
By that date they will have to show their financial ability to sustain such an operation after which companies will then have a further two months to file their detailed economic and management plans.
So where are we now with this cripplingly expensive aviation saga. Is it finally about to take off or will the recent objections made by Aena muddy the waters even further??
Following their investment of 270 million euro, statements emanating from the Murcia Government, say that building work is largely completed. But in recent years the project has been dogged by controversy not least of which was the government’s decision toward the end of 2015 to cancel the management contract with Sacyr first awarded in 2007.
At the time they said that the multinational infrastructures and services company had exceeded the time allowed in the contract document to put the airport into operation, an airport of course that they also largely built.
Despite the failure of many other similar ventures in Spain, where Castellón and Ciudad Real, Huesca, Lérida, Salamanca, León, La Rioja, Burgos and Albacete all suffered either crippling losses or closure, the Corvera International Airport is the first regional airport to be put out to management tender.
Murcia’s Department of Development and Infrastructure say that the new airport will welcome an additional 800,000 foreign tourists in the first four years which will increase the total passenger traffic arriving by air in the region to 3.5 million a year. They also say that the additional number of people arriving in the area will create a further 20,000 jobs in the tourist industry and increase the regional GDP by 3.5%
Also last week, another small step forward with the relaunch of the airport website. Although there is information for potential passengers and customers in English much of the content provided is for the benefit of potential management companies.
The opening paragraph states “The Murcia International Airport was born to become the gateway to one of the Spanish tourist destinations with the highest growth potential. The Spanish Southeast opens a new window to the world through its Airport. A comfortable, practical and efficient airport, both for passengers and for the companies that operate in it.” But take a look yourself at: www.aeropuertointernacionalmurcia.com
However, the proof will be in the pudding of course especially since San Javier Airport has shown yet another spectacular increase in its passenger traffic during the Winter season, and with AENA refusing to close San Javier Airport down and Pedro Rivera, Murcia’s Minister for Development and Infrastructure, still unwilling to speculate on when Corvera will see its first activity, it might still be a while yet before the public are convinced that it can actually operate as a going concern.