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MAG and BCEG bid to operate Sofia Airport

Posted 11 April 2019 · Add Comment

The UKís largest airport group, Manchester Airports Group (MAG), confirmed that it has entered a bid to operate Sofia Airport in Bulgaria for the next 35 years, submitting its formal bid to the Transport Ministry in Sofia today along with its consortium partner, the Chinese construction giant, Beijing Construction Engineering Group (BCEG).

Above: Tony Lavan of MAG and Yu Dongwen of BCEG in Sofia with the submission.

The competitive concession process was started on 5th July by the Bulgarian Government, and MAG had been expected to participate after announcing its intention at a press conference in Sofia in October 2018.

MAG already operates three major airports in the UK at Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands and provides services to six airports in the United States. Its UK airports serve over 60 million passengers per year, to over 270 destinations via 70 airlines. It is currently investing over £1.5bn (3.2bn BGN) in its airports in the UK, while BCEG is currently building one of the largest aviation projects in the world: Beijing Daxing International Airport, which will be the world’s largest airport and recently completed its first test flights.

The first phase of Beijing Daxing project comprises four runways, 268 aircraft parking bays and 700,000 square metres of terminal. It is also expected to operate 9 runways in order to accommodate 620,000 flights and 100 million passengers each year.

The Anglo-Chinese consortium’s submission to the Government includes significant plans for the redevelopment and reconfiguration of existing terminals at the airport, as well as designs for a brand new “Terminal 3” which, when complete, will ensure Sofia has an airport fit for its position as a European capital city.

Andrew Harrison, CEO, Airport Services, MAG said: “As we promised last year, MAG has made its formal submission to the Bulgarian Government. It is an exciting moment for us, as we truly believe that Sofia Airport has enormous potential to deliver further connectivity for Sofia. This in turn will help stimulate additional economic growth and tourism throughout Bulgaria. 

“We have spent much of the past two years in Bulgaria, hearing from businesses, and, most importantly, the people of Sofia, about what they would like to see in a new, redeveloped airport.

“We at MAG believe that this concession process will be hugely beneficial for Bulgaria as a whole and that, together with BCEG, we have a compelling offer. We are thrilled to be taking part.” 

MAG’s ownership structure comprises a blend of both Manchester City Council and the Greater Manchester local authorities and long-term private investors (IFM Investors) representing a true public-private partnership. This has ensured that its growth has been founded on its ability to balance the commercial considerations of its airports with a commitment to working closely with the local communities around each site to ensure that they benefit both from the point of view of investment, job creation and the environment.

MAG operates each of its airports as a unique entity, with a deep understanding of the aspirations and concerns of local residents, workers and economic partners. It understands the responsibility that comes with running an airport, given the economic growth and prosperity that a successful airport can bring to a city, region and country.

MAG has a track record of engaging with local companies in its supply chain. MAG and its team of local advisers has spent over two years analysing the potential of Sofia Airport and was proud to be the first consortium to confirm its participation.

MAG’s partner, Chinese state-owned BCEG, one of the world’s top 250 construction companies, has over 65 years of history specialising in construction, development and investment. BCEG employs over 20,000 people internationally to deliver its projects and services across 27 countries, over five continents, including regional offices in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, USA and the UK.

BCEG has a strong track record of delivery in the aviation sector. To date it has delivered over one million square metres of new terminal floorspace, 15 major cargo/technical hangers and hundreds of kilometres of runways, taxiways and aprons.

The partnership between MAG and BCEG is long-standing, having been established in 2013 to develop Airport City Manchester. The consortium has developed a strong, mutual understanding and this has continued into building a shared vision for realising the potential of Sofia Airport.

Xing Yan, Regional Director of BCEG International Co. Ltd. said: “By successfully submitting our bid with our partners MAG, in the concession tender, we have the opportunity and ability to completely transform Sofia Airport and the experiences of the millions of people that use it every year. BCEG has a great track record of delivering projects of major importance like this on time, on budget and to the highest quality.

“This would be the first of many major construction projects on and around the airport estate, and we look forward to working closely with MAG improving the transportation infrastructure and placing Sofia Airport firmly on the aviation and tourism map.

“We are extremely proud to be part of the team submitting our proposal for this flagship scheme. Sofia international airport will contribute significantly to the enhancement of the area but also contributing to the continued success of Bulgaria and its people.”

MAG and BCEG have worked with the following advisers on the project:
•    ING and Raiffeisen Bank as financial advisers
•    Andrey Delchev & Partners – Eurolex LLC and Pinsents Masons as legal advisers
•    Arup as technical advisers
•    Allen & Overy as legal advisers to the lenders.


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