The Slovenia Times

Maribor Airport potentially in for EUR 660m revamp


Marko Gros of SHS Aviation explained that what was signed today in Budapest was a preliminary contract, which realised the idea to join the second package of financing by the 16+1 initiative enabled by China.

The preliminary contract, signed as part of the summit of China and 16 Central and East European countries, is a part of the commitments given to the Infrastructure Ministry when the long-term lease deal was signed in March, Gros explained.

"This project will be implemented in several segments, both in cargo and passenger as well as services segments." The funds will be intended for an extension of the runway and the passenger terminal, increasing the capacity of warehouses for cargo and other activities, for hangars, hotel accommodation and similar.

The first phase is an extension of the runway, and relevant changes to the zoning plan are expected to be drafted by March 2018, he said, adding that procedures for building permit and everything that the preliminary contract demands could start then.

The deal was first announced by Marko Kovačič, an advisor to Maribor Mayor Andrej Fištravec, who said that it defined commitments for both sides, adding that all depended on changing the national zoning plan for Maribor airport.

"The development of the airport is going according to plans. The next step is drafting the state zoning plan for extending the runway, which the Infrastructure Ministry promised would be ready by the end of March," Fištravec noted.

The zoning plan is the foundation for all subsequent investments, the mayor added at a news conference the city of Maribor held to speak about the deal.

The government has recently appointed a task force to draft changes to the zoning plan, including the extension of the runway from 2,500 to 3,300 metres, an expansion of the apron, a de-icing area and an area to upgrade and develop airport infrastructure.

Prime Minister Miro Cerar stressed on the sidelines of the Budapest summit that it was in Slovenia's interest to establish good connections to China, including with direct flights.

Cerar added that the government and he personally would "support such initiatives", but since it was a private project, he could only welcome the potential success of the investors.

Initially, SHS Aviation, a company registered in Slovenia but backed by Chinese capital, planned to invest around EUR 300m in the airport, but Kovačič said that an analysis carried out by the investor had shown a bigger investment was required.

"It is a big moment for us, as signing a deal with such a major partner will be a significant promotion. Maribor Airport will be known in Europe and Asia as a niche airport with passenger and cargo connections to China," Kovačič added.

According to him, SHS will finance the investment with own funds and loans from banks.

Fištravec added that today's signing confirmed the city's decision to seek partners in emerging fast-growing markets who can find opportunities in the region and entire Slovenia.

According to Kovačič, the state-owned China State Construction Engineering Corporation with headquarters in Beijing is one of the biggest construction companies in the world. It has built three-quarters of all Chinese airports.


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