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Cape Verde Islands: government seeks concessionaires for its airports

The Cabo Verde islands have been attracting tourists in ever-increasing numbers during the past decade, offering a concoction of the true Africa and high-class western-style hotels and resorts. Tourism has supplemented the well established travel to and from the islands by ex-pats but hasn’t really helped the national airline, which has faced mounting problems.

Just as that that tourism growth has levelled off, a deal is about to be sealed by which Icelandair, with its huge experience of hub and spoke, sixth freedom operations, will take operational control of Cabo Verde Airlines, with a new strategy to build a hub and spoke airline using Cape Verde as a connecting hub between continents.

That requires cooperation with the airports, of course, and Cape Verde isn’t Iceland, with its islands well spread out and having differing political and social needs.

While the capital city is on one island, the main commercial centre (for centuries) is on another, and another two islands account for most of the tourism. Even the majority of the police force comes from one island and on another annual tourist visitors outnumber locals by many hundreds to one.

So it is strange that the government has chosen this moment to announce that the airports will be concessioned out, and by the end of 2019. A concessionaire might offer useful funds that can be used for other purposes, but equally might have different ideas from those of the state operator ASA about how to run its airports.

This report examines some of the difficulties of putting a concession procedure into place, and one in which firms might be interested.

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