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Airport infrastructure prospects continue to fall foul of politics

Selling or leasing an airport at the best of times – and these aren’t – isn’t easy. Unlike airlines they are heavily infrastructure-dependent and have planning timeframes that stretch into decades. Entry and exit is much more difficult than for the airlines. But the few deals on the table momentarily are additionally hampered by political considerations. To a degree that has always been the case but just now deals in both Portugal and Brazil in particular are potentially threatened by factors that investors might not have taken fully into account.

The primary example is the sale of the Portuguese airports' operator ANA, which is running in tandem with that of the state airline TAP Portugal and at the behest of those bodies responsible for providing Portugal’s EUR78 billion (USD100 billion) bailout in May-2011: the other members of the group of 17 European Union countries that use the euro; the European Central Bank (ECB); and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), collectively known as the troika. The three-year bailout deal locked Portugal into cutting its deficit otherwise its creditors would not provide the funds. Portugal has so far received EUR61 billion of these bailout funds.

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