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Airport privatisation 2020 report and prospects for 2021 – Part 2

Analysis

The first part of this report contained an overview of the limited airport privatisation activity during 2020 in Asia Pacific and Europe. This second part looks at the Americas, the Middle East and West Asia, and Africa.

In North America the airport privatisation momentum has dried up again, while in Latin America the Brazilian concessions are up to their seventh tranche and counting, but with few really attractive airports remaining for international investors.

In the Middle East and West Asia transactions on small airports remain the norm in Russia while in several of the ‘stans’ governments are seeking to attract foreign investors mysteriously to help them achieve some sort of international hub status for their airports. Meanwhile, Qatar Airways has established itself as potentially an ambitious investor in Russia

From there to Africa, a continent which still cannot attract any real interest in its airports from outside the region, and isn’t likely to while the prevarication which exists in Nigeria continues.

For Part 1 of this report please see: Airport privatisation 2020 report and prospects for 2021 – Part 1

The CAPA Global Airport Investors Database contains comprehensive details on all the investing firms mentioned here, while the Airport Construction Database is the go-to resource for all airport construction and capex data and news.
For further information please contact: CAPA Global Airport Investors Database

Summary

  • The impetus behind the privatisation of airports in the U.S. has run out of steam and is unlikely to return under a Democrat government.
  • In Latin America most activity continues to be in Brazil, but it is coming to an end.
  • There is some degrees of investment opportunity in West Asia and in the Ukraine.
  • Little is happening in Africa, where countries continue to vacillate over whether or not to privatise, thereby worsening existing preconceptions about the continent.

North America - in the United States, another year of snail’s pace privatisation

United States

Despite the expansion of the airport privatisation programme and removal of entry barriers to it, the year 2020 witnessed hardly any privatisation activity in the sector in the U.S., including public-private partnerships to build specific industry (although most of the new central terminal at New York’s La Guardia airport is operational now by way of two separate P3 schemes).

Indeed, the reverse happened, as two potential leases both hit the dust. There was no privatisation activity at all in Canada.

St. Louis gave up its airport privatisation slot for Lambert International Airport in Sep-2020, after saying in May that it might be prudent to retain its slot in the FAA pilot project for airport privatisation.

St Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson notified the FAA that it was withdrawing from the programme. Today, any airport owner may work with private investors to lease its airport while complying with the provisions of the new 2018 Airport Investment Partnership Programme.

The only explanation offered was “the rising number of COVID-19 cases and the current political climate.”

For further information see: St. Louis Lambert Airport: privatisation now back in play

In western Florida, the Punta Gorda airport considered entering the FAA’s Airport Investment Partnership Programme (AIPP), under which it could solicit proposals for a long term public-partnership (P3) lease of the airport.

The airport’s governing body – the Charlotte County Airport Authority – was in contact with people who were involved in the successful P3 lease of Luis Muñoz Marín Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 2013. The authority was considering the “possible use of proceeds” if it decided to go forward.

However, Charlotte County Airport Authority (CCAA) commissioners voted 3-2 to oppose the privatisation proposal in Nov-2020. The proposals had been in discussion for several years, and included approximately USD200 million upfront, with an additional USD125 million to USD300 million in revenue share over a 40-year lease.

For further information see: Small single-airline Florida airport, Punta Gorda, may seek lease/P3

Central, South and Latin America - most privatisation is still in Brazil

Argentina

In Nov-2020 Corporación América Airports announced an agreement to extend the concession of Aeropuertos Argentina 2000 for 10 years until 2038.

The extension is part of an agreement entered by AA2000 and ORSNA (the regulator) with the aim of mitigating the impact of COVID-19 in its operations, and it further includes the commitment by AA2000 of incremental capital expenditures of approximately USD500 million to be undertaken between 2022 and 2027 for expansion projects.

On 17-Dec-2020 the Government of Argentina issued a presidential decree which ratified the Concession Agreement Extension.

Active airports for Corporación América Airports S.A consortium, including Aeropuertos Argentina 2000 (AA 2000)

Bahamas

Bahamas director of aviation Algernon Cargill stated that the government would break ground on George Town Exuma International Airport's redevelopment effective Dec-2020.

The USD65 million project will expand the passenger terminal from 2000sqft to approximately 60,000sqft. The government also plans to launch a tender in Jan-2021 for the construction of a USD15 million airport at Deadman's Cay. Construction would start in Mar-2021.

He also affirmed that the Government remains committed to a public-private partnership (PPP) model for financing and managing the construction/development of these airports, in a bid to alleviate the strain on an already cash-strapped Public Treasury.

Barbados

In Aug-2020 Bridgetown Grantley Adams International Airport prequalified 13 parties to bid on the PPP for the operation, financing, development and maintenance of the airport.

The prequalified bidders will receive the RFP and bidding documents for the PPP project when the bid process is launched. The concession will be for 30 years.

For further information (including background on the bidders, see: Investors queue up for Bridgetown Airport 30-year PPP

Bolivia

Bolivia's Deputy Minister of Transport Julio Linares rejected suggestions that the Government was planning to privatise Santa Cruz Viru Viru International Airport.

Mr Linares stated that the Government's objective was to build the airport up into an important hub through a PPP. The Deputy Minister added that “a French company” would invest USD400 million in the airport.

Groupe ADP signed an MoU in Oct-2019 which started an "exclusive negotiation" with Bolivia's Government to develop the Santa Cruz Viru Viru International Airport. The negotiations were for "a strategic alliance contract for operation and development" of the airport over a 30-year period.

Subsequently, Bolivia's interim President Jeanine Anez signed a decree launching the Santa Cruz Viru Viru International Airport PPP project, which is expected to generate USD420 million in investment at the airport over a 30-year period. The Bolivian Government emphasised that the entry of private capital in the airport does not contradict the Bolivian Constitution, which dictates that airport assets must be managed by the government.

Brazil

The sixth round of airport concessions was confirmed.

Brazil's Minister of Infrastructure manifested confidence in the Government's plan to auction 43 airports under concession in May-2020. The sixth round of concessions (22 airports) was divided as follows:

South block:

Curitiba Afonso Pena Airport, Foz do Iguaçu International Airport, Londrina Airport, Bacacheri Airport, Navegantes Airport, Joinville Lauro Carneiro de Loyola Airport, Pelotas Airport, Curitiba Afonso Pena Airport Airport and Bagé Airport. (Minimum bid: BRL133.5 million (USD25.3 million).

Central block:

Goiânia Santa Genoveva Airport, Palmas Airport, Teresina Airport, Petrolina Airport, São Luis Marechal Cunha Machado Airport and Imperatriz Airport. (Minimum bid: BRL8.2 million (USD1.6 million).

North block:

Manaus Eduardo Gomes International Airport, Tabatinga Airport, Tefé Airport, Rio Branco Placido de Castro Airport, Cruzeiro do Sul Airport, Porto Velho Airport and Boa Vista International Airport. (Minimum bid: BRL48.2 million (USD9.1 million).

The tender process in expected to begin in 1Q2021. The upfront concession fee for each block is as follows:

•             North Block: BRL47.9 million (USD9.3 million);

•             South Block: BRL130.2 million (USD25.4 million);

•             Central Block: BRL8.1 million (USD1.6 million).

Also in May-2020, Brazil’s ANAC (regulator) approved technical and legal feasibility reports for the issue of tenders to appoint new operators for Campinas Viracopos Airport and Natal Aluízio Alves International Airport. Aeroportos Brasil Viracopos and Inframerica had announced plans to return their concession contracts for the airports in early 2020.

In Jul-2020 Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro signed a decree which allows Campinas Viracopos Airport to be retendered. The decree stated that the Ministry of Infrastructure (Brazil MoI) had 90 days to evaluate the possibility of transferring Aeroportos Brasil Viracopos' financing debt to the new concessionaire.

Campinas Viracopos Airport ownership is divided between Infraero (49%) and Aeroportos Brasil (51%), which in turn is held by UTC (48.12%), Triunfo (48.12%) and Egis (3.76%).

Subsequently, Brazil Invest Airport (BIA) offered BRL150 million (USD26.8 million) to acquire UTC Participações' shares in Campinas Viracopos Airport. BIA also intended to make an offer to acquire Infraero's 49% share in the airport.

Triunfo TPI announced that Aeroportos Brasil Viracopos (ABV) had signed an amendment to the Campinas Viracopos Airport concession contract, taking a step closer to the retendering of the airport for a new concession.

In Jun-2020, and referring to the COVID outbreak that has wreaked havoc in Brazil, the Minister of Infrastructure Tarcisio de Freitas commented on the country's concession projects, affirming: "There will not be any change in our concession projects line up". He added: "We have a robust logistics plan and a diverse and sophisticated portfolio, from ports, highways and airports which strategically interconnect the country".

Also in Jun-2020, the Infrastructure Minister transferred the administration of Belo Horizonte Pampulha Airport from Infraero to the Government of Minas Gerais. The State Government launched an RFI for proposals to develop the airport's executive aviation portfolio and a convention centre. Minas Gerais plans to open the airport for concession.

The Ministry of Infrastructure commented on the development of regional aviation in Brazil, stating that the MoI was working on a PPP programme for regional airports that would be finalised by the end of 2H2020, to stimulate investments in regional airports. He added that regional aviation has an unmet demand which can be an opportunity for aviation operators.

Invepar said it would formalise an offer to acquire Airports Company South Africa's (ACSA) 20% ownership of Aeroporto de Guarulhos Participações SA. Invepar owns the other 80%. Aeroporto de Guarulhos Participações SA owns a 51% participation in São Paulo Guarulhos International Airport.

In Oct-2020 the Ministry of Infrastructure (MoI) announced that the government had transferred the management of 17 airports to Brazil MoI, allowing improvement works to be carried out and providing legal safeguards during the process of concessioning the airports. The measure also permits precise measuring of the assets ahead of the concession process documentation.

Assets transferred are located at the following cities: Cruzeiro do Sul, Tabatinga, Tefé, São Mateus, Goiânia, Imperatriz, São Luís, Corumbá, Altamira, Santarém, Petrolina, Parnaíba, Teresina, Foz do Iguaçu, Pelotas, Uruguaiana and Joinville.

With the sixth concession round yet to be formalised, the MoI launched (08-Oct-2020) the tender process for studies on the concession of 17 airports scheduled for the seventh round of airport concessions in Brazil.

The concession process will be by blocks, with the following groups of airports:

•             RJ/MG Block: Rio de Janeiro Santos Dumont Airport, Jacarepaguá Airport, Uberlandia Airport, Montes Claros Airport and Uberaba Airport;

•             North Block II: Belém Val de Cans Airport, Santarém Airport, Marabá Airport, Carajás Airport, Altamira Airport and Macapá Airport;

•             SP/MS Block: São Paulo Congonhas Airport, São Paulo Campo de Marte Airport, São Jose dos Campos Airport, Campo Grande Airport, Corumbá Airport and Ponta Porã Airport.

Interested parties had to register their interest within 180 days to complete the study.

The seventh round of concession is scheduled to occur in 2022 and, unlike the sixth one, it has a major ‘anchor’ airport attached to each group (Rio de Janeiro Santos Dumont/Belém Val de Cans/ São Paulo Congonhas airports).

In Jan-2021 Brazil's Ministry of Infrastructure (Brazil MoI) announced that three consortia had been qualified to present projects and studies for the concession of 16 airports in Brazil's seventh round of airport concessions.

Consortium I: INFRAWAY, with BACCO, CPEA, MOYSÉS & PIRES and TERRAFIRMA. Infraway is an infrastructure engineering company.

Consortium II: VALLYA, PROFICENTER PIQUET CARNEIRO, MAGALDI and GUEDES. VALLYA is a boutique investment and government relations consulting company headquartered in Brasília. It has considerable experience in the airports sector.

Consortium III: encompassing EDO ROCHA, WOODS BAGO, URBAN, AUP, CAVALCANTI, PCA, AADU, LASUS, C FLY and PETINELLI. EDO ROCHA is a firm of architects including airport-related work. This third consortium was qualified to present studies for the São Paulo/Mato Grosso do Sul block only.

In Nov-2020 Corporación América Airports announced that its subsidiary Inframerica Concessionária do Aeroporto de São Gonçalo do Amarante had executed an irrevocable amendment for the termination of the concession agreement of Natal Aluízio Alves International Airport.

Upon transfer to a new operator, an indemnification payment will be made to Inframerica, which will be determined by authorities, primarily based on non-amortised capital expenditure investments.

The process to terminate the concession agreement was initiated on 05-Mar-2020, before the pandemic broke out in Latin America, with the goal of transferring the concession of this airport to a different operator.

Several factors drove the decision of returning the concession, including the negative impact on passenger traffic as a result of the 2016 and 2017 economic crisis. In addition, passenger tariffs lag those of all other privatised airports in the country under the same tariff scheme, and air navigation tariffs charged in other airports are approximately 300% higher than in Natal Airport.

Natal Airport was the first airport in Brazil transferred to the private sector, in 2011, and the first greenfield federal airport built by the private sector, launching operations in May-2014. As of Dec-2019, the total amount of investments in Natal Airport was approximately BRL700 million (USD131.9 million).

For further information see: More Brazilian airport concession issues; first one nears termination

Smaller transactions:

In May-2020 Infraero (the state airport operator, which now has a much-reduced role) signed a contract with the government of Guarujá in which Infraero will administer Guarujá Airport over the next 12 months. Infraero will have the target of enabling the airport to handle commercial services.

In Oct-2020 Infraero announced that Minas Gerais State Government had hired Infraero to administer Ipatinga Usiminas Airport for 12 months, with a possible extension.

Infraero will be responsible for operations, while the state will offer public safety, traffic inspections, environmental licences and water, electricity and phone bills.

Active airports for Infraero – a diminishing role, but it still retains a stake in some of Brazil’s largest airports

INFRACEA took over the administration of two airports in Santa Catarina, stating: "With the commencement of operating these two new airports, INFRACEA maintains itself as one of the largest regional airport operators in Brazil".

INFRACEA now administers Criciúma Airport and Correia Pinto Airport. Subsequently (Dec-2020), INFRACEA took over the administration of Caruaru Airport and Serra Talhada Airport. The concession agreement includes requirements to develop work plans with documentation, manuals, operational procedures, training and other areas of airport management. The concession was granted by the State of Pernambuco.

In Oct-2020 the Campos dos Goytacazes government awarded the 30-year concession of Campos dos Goytacazes Bartolomeu Lisandro Airport to Infra Construtora e Serviços. The concessionaire will invest BRL98 million (USD17.5 million) over the concession period, with BRL28 million (USD5 million) invested over the first five years of concession. Infra Construtora e Serviços presented a bid offer of BRL1.8 million (USD320,900).

São Paulo's Governor João Doria plans to open São José do Rio Preto Airport for concession by 2022. Mr Doria plans to transfer 22 regional airports to the private initiative, aiming to receive USD80 million in airport infrastructure investments.

Ecuador

In Aug-2020 Ecuador's President Lenín Moreno stated that Korea Airports Corporation would operate Manta Airport under a 30-year concession, and is expected to invest USD182 million in airport infrastructure.

The Oct-2020 signing of an 'Interinstitutional Cooperation Agreement' for the development of services and airport activity at Manta Eloy Alfaro International Airport also formalised a declaration of goodwill and cooperation between the Mayor of Manta and the mayors and president of the Parish Boards of the Galapagos Islands, in order to support air connectivity with the Galapagos Islands.

Chile

Santiago International Airport's concessionaire, Nuevo Pudahuel, opened a dialogue in Oct-2020 with Chile's Ministry of Public Works, seeking to extend the airport's concession deadline beyond 2035 due to the negative effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Colombia

In Jun-2020 Aerocivil excluded Armenia El Edén Airport from the list of airports to be transferred for concession. The airport will undergo phase four of its modernisation project, with an estimated cost of COP40 billion (USD10.7 million) and starting in 2021.

Dominica

The small Caribbean island of Dominica, which relies on nearby island airports for long-distance travel, is to get its own international/intercontinental airport. A citizen’s investment programme will pay for much of it, also a cruise port and infrastructure, but some private capital might be sought.

For further information see: Dominica, undaunted by COVID, to build first long-haul airport

Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic's PPP director general Sigmund Freund has stated that the Dominican Republic's tourism development plan includes the construction of Pedernales Airport. The project will be funded through an investment fund PPP.

Honduras           

In Sep-2020 Tegucigalpa Toncontín International Airport received an official visit by officials from Munich Airport International (MAI) and EMCO to evaluate the airport assets ahead of taking over full administration of the airport in 2021.

The visit is the first step in the transition process. Initial administration began in Sep-2020. As part of the concession agreement Palmerola International Airport will operate and maintain Toncontín's facilities and operations in collaboration with MAI as a strategic partner until the new airport is ready for operations in 2021.

Honduras' Airport Infrastructure Company (EHISA) signed a 12-month contract, also in Sep-2020, with HAS Development Corporation (HASDC) where HASDC will provide advisory services to EHISA on management of San Pedro Sula Ramón Villeda Morales Airport, La Ceiba Golosón International Airport and Roatan Juan Manuel Gálvez International Airport. EHISA started managing the airports effective 29-Sep-2020.

Mexico

Mexico's President Andrés López Obrador called for the concessionaire (ASUR) administering Tapachula International Airport to invest in expanding the airport.

Mr López Obrador stated that if the concessionaire does not want to invest, they can hand over the airport to the federal or state government, "respectfully" stating: "If they consider that it is not convenient for them to administer the airport because they have others with more traffic, hand the concession back". In 2018 ASUR outlined a plan to invest in the airport through to 2033.

Mexico's Government plan for Mexico City's airport infrastructure is to appoint Grupo Aeroportuario de La Ciudad de México (GACM) as the administrator for Mexico City Toluca Airport, Mexico City Juarez International Airport and the under-conversion of Santa Lucia Air Base. The plan highlights that currently each airport in the Mexican capital pursues its own independent objective, leading to missed synergy opportunities.

Under this scheme it is possible that the Toluca airport could be de-privatised.

Middle East and West Asia – Almaty Airport’s sale may go ahead; in Russia, small transaction deals still predominate

Kazakhstan

On 07-May-2020 TAV Airports signed a share purchase agreement for the acquisition of 100% of Almaty Airport shares and the associated jet fuel and catering businesses for an enterprise value of USD415 million.

The acquisition was made by a consortium comprising TAV Airports and VPE Capital. TAV Airports will hold a minimum 75% share in the consortium. TAV Airports' CEO Sani Şener said TAV Airports believes the airport holds significant growth potential as a transit hub between Asia and Europe.

TAV Airports plans to invest USD150 million to USD200 million into the construction of a new terminal and upgrade of infrastructure. Airport capacity is expected to double to 14 million, and the investor plans to develop the airport as a multimodal cargo hub.

The acquisition is not yet completed.

Active airports for TAV Airports