SaS: Ersek Has Prepared Messy Privatisation of Bratislava Airport

Bratislava airport (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, October 31 (TASR) – Transport and Construction Minister Arpad Ersek (Most-Hid) has prepared a messy privatisation of Bratislava airport, stated the Opposition Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party on Wednesday, adding that Ersek is talking about renting out the airport, but rental for 30 years will in fact have the effects of privatisation.

“There’s a need to say that it will be a bungled privatisation from the viewpoints of the state and passengers. Paradoxically, this bungled privatisation comes after Robert Fico’s (Smer-SD) government in 2006 cancelled a regular privatisation of a majority stake in the airport that could have brought billions of crowns into state coffers along with massive investments in modernisation and development,” wrote SaS in a statement provided to TASR on Wednesday.

The liberals view the ministry’s proposal as primarily aimed at operating the airport and not at investment, i.e. development. According to SaS MP Miroslav Ivan, there’s a real threat that the renter will return the airport to the state after 30 years in a condition that will require huge investment not only in development, but also in maintenance.

“What Transport Minister Arpad Ersek wants to assert is the privatisation of the airport’s future revenues, [a plan] which we find to be extremely limited. Therefore, we urge the ministry to define strategic goals, i.e. the direction in which Bratislava airport will develop in our central-European region,” stated Ivan.

SaS also wants the ministry to back these goals with estimates of real financial needs and eventually provide the public with an analysis of business-property models so that it will be clear which of them will meet strategic goals best, i.e. whether it should be a regular privatisation, long-term rental or leaving the airport in state hands, including its management. The liberals call on the Government not to accept Ersek’s current plan.

The Transport Ministry has drawn up a draft project involving the process of selecting a concession-holder for M.R. Stefanik Airport in Bratislava. It’s submitted it for interdepartmental review. The ministry expects that that long-term sustainable development can be provided for the airport by implementing a public-private partnership in the form of granting a concession. The state should profit from this as well. The ministry believes that granting a concession will minimise risks related to the ownership and operation of the airport if the state keeps certain supervisory powers over strategic activities.

“The option of renting the airport to a foreign partner has been repeatedly mentioned, and this has eventually been shown to be the best and most suitable alternative for the state. I believe it will make our largest international airport visible, as it occupies a strategic position within Europe. I’m positive that additional investments that the state can’t provide will boost its prestige and quality of services and attract new airlines at the same time,” stated Ersek.