VINCI Airports celebrates the start of its operations in Serbia
On February 13, 2019, VINCI Airports celebrated the start of its operations in Serbia and the beginning of its 25-years concession of Nikola Tesla Airport, in the presence of Ana Brnabić, Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia, and Nicolas Notebaert, CEO of VINCI Concessions and President of VINCI Airports, along with representatives of the diplomatic corps and the business community.
Entitled “Illuminating Your World” in reference to both Nikola Tesla’s legacy and VINCI Airports’ slogan “Opening Your World”, the event featured speeches, animations and videos celebrating VINCI Airports and Serbia’s joint commitment to making the airport a modern reflection of the future Serbia, in order to support the country’s development as it connects to the rest of the world.
In his speech, Nicolas Notebaert, CEO of VINCI Concessions and President of VINCI Airports, said: “We strongly believe in the potential of this airport. That is why, over the next 25 years, we hope to act, under the public authorities’ leadership as a reference partner to Serbia’s national economy, to consolidate the position of Nikola Tesla as the leading airport in the Balkans region.”
To achieve this ambition, he notably announced an investment plan of more than €730 million over the course of the concession to upgrade and modernize the airport and an objective to bring the 5 million passengers currently welcomed every year to 15 million by the end of the concession.
“We will develop the traffic, but we will do it smartly and sustainably” he added, noting that VINCI Airports’ commitment to sustainability will allow making Nikola Tesla Airport an exemplary company in terms of social responsibility, “through the reinforcement and empowerment of safety and security standards, and by making the airport a reference in Europe for environmental performance.”
Symbolically handing over the keys of the Airport, Prime Minister Ana Brnabić stated that this project was of strategic importance for further development of Serbia. “This is the first concession in the history of our country, and VINCI Airports is a partner who will improve our airport’s operations with their know-how, experience, references and resources,” Brnabić stressed.
In her address, the Prime Minister added “3.4 million passengers transited through Nikola Tesla Airport in 2012, and owing to the partnership with Etihad and Air Serbia, the Airport served as many as 5.6 million passengers at the end of 2018. This growth is the result of great effort, changes and faith in our country’s potential and VINCI Airports is the strong partner for further, faster and more sustainable growth of the airport.”
2018 Q4 traffic and annual performance in the VINCI Airports network
VINCI Airports’ network handled close to 48 million passengers in Q4 2018 (7.2% more than in Q4 2017 on a like-for-like network base) and a total of 240 million passengers in FY 2018 (195.2 million passengers before integrating London Gatwick*).
Traffic at the 10 assets operated by VINCI Airports in Portugal rose 6.2% to 12.4 million passengers in Q4 2018. These airports had cleared the 50 million passenger milestone in 2017, and solid 6.8% growth pushed the total past the 55 million passenger mark in 2018.
Traffic at the Lisbon hub grew by 8.9% year on year to an all-time-high 29 million notwithstanding space limitations. This was the biggest leap in the VINCI Airports network in 2018. To be able to accommodate traffic growth until the concession expires in 2062, VINCI Airports and the Portuguese government signed on 8 January 2019, an agreement to finance the expansion of Lisbon’s airport capacity, both by the extension of the existing Lisbon airport and the opening of a new civil airport in Montijo, 25 kilometres away from the city center.
The airport in Porto posted the highest year-on-year traffic growth rate in the country (10.7% to 11.9 million passengers).
In France, traffic at the 12 airports under VINCI Airports management soared 10.4% to 4.6 million passengers in Q4. Over the full year, these airports catered to 19.9 million passengers, i.e. 9.4% more than in 2017.
Traffic at Lyon-Saint Exupéry and Lyon-Bron airports rose 7.4% in 2018, pushing the total past the 11 million passenger mark. The more than 25 new lines, including flights between Lyon and Tel Aviv, Corfu, Catania and Malaga, explain the bulk of this trend.
Traffic at Nantes Atlantique Airport increased by 12.9% in 2018 compared to 2017, reaching the 6 million passenger mark, as a result of the opening of 14 new lines. Rennes Bretagne airport posted record-level 18.3% growth in 2018, mirroring a sharp rise in domestic traffic (in particular the easyJet line to Lyon).
In the United Kingdom, Belfast International Airport (which joined VINCI Airports’ network in September 2018) posted a 13.6% traffic leap in Q4, confirming the British market’s dynamism. This airport handled almost 6.3 million passengers from January to December 2018, i.e. 7.5% more than in 2017.
In Serbia, traffic in Q4 2018 grew by 2.0% to 1.2 million passengers at Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla Airport, which VINCI Airports took over at the end of December 2018. Over the full year, traffic at the airport rose by 5.4% to 5.6 million passengers. This solid performance mirrors the capital city’s vitality.
In the United States, traffic at the five airports that VINCI Airports has been operating under concession or management contracts since September 2018 reached 2.4 million passengers in Q4 2018 (up 5.6% compared to Q4 2017). Over 9.5 million passengers travelled through these five airports from January to December 2018 (8.7% more than in 2017).
Traffic at Santiago-Arturo Merino Benítez Airport in Chile grew by 8.5% to 6.3 million passengers in Q4 2018, and by 8.8% to 23.3 million passengers over 2018, fuelled by domestic travel and new intercontinental lines including Emirates services to Dubai.
In Brazil, traffic at the airport in Salvador increased by 7.5% in Q4. VINCI Airports has been operating this airport since January 2018, and it catered to 8 million passengers over the past 12 months, posting 4.6% year-on-year growth. The year’s highlights here included new symbolic lines such as Miami (LATAM Airlines), Santiago de Chile (Gol) and Panama City (Copa).
Traffic at VINCI Airports’ six bases in the Dominican Republic was stable (up 0.3%) at 1.2 million passengers in Q4 2018. In spite of a difficult start to the year marked by the bankruptcy of three airlines, these airports only declined by 2.0% in 2018. VINCI Airports’ marketing campaigns targeting airlines have attracted 20 new lines, which are expected to spur fresh growth starting in 2019.
The three airports in the Kansai region in Japan handled 12.6 million passengers in Q4 2018, i.e. 5.4% more than in a Q4 2017, even though Kansai International Airport was closed for about 10 days in September, in the wake of Typhoon Jebi. Total traffic at these three airports amounted to 48.3 million passengers in 2018 (3.7% more than in 2017).
Traffic at VINCI Airports’ three bases in Cambodia remained on the strong upward trend it has been on since last January. A total of 2.9 million passengers travelled through these airports from October to December 2018 (17.1% more than in Q4 2017), pushing the full-year figure past the 10 million passenger mark for the first time ever, to 10.6 million (up 20.1% year on year). These figures in particular reflect an upsurge in demand from China and Thailand, and the fact that eight new lines were opened.
Growth was especially brisk in Phnom Penh (up 27.9%), which cleared the 5 million passenger milestone to reach 5.4 million.
Traffic at Sihanoukville International Airport, which serves Cambodia’s leading seaside resort, leapt 92.6% in 2018, mirroring the region’s soaring popularity among national and other Asian tourists.
On 22 March, VINCI Airports signed a 25-year concession contract covering the airport’s financing, operation, maintenance, extension and upgrade, and stating the conditions precedent to its entree into force it has since satisfied.
To complete this transaction, VINCI Airports has raised loans amounting to a total of €420 million and maturing over a maximum of 17 years from 4 multilateral institutions – IFC (a member of the World Bank Group), EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development), Agence Française de Développement (via its subsidiary Proparco) and DEG (KfW Group) – and from 6 merchant banks (UniCredit, Intesa, Erste, Société Générale, Kommunalkredit and CIC).
The loans will complement the equity that VINCI Airports is investing in the operation and cover the €501 million upfront concession fee paid to the granting authority as well as the airport extension and upgrade works provided in the contract.
When it officially takes over operations this 22 December, VINCI Airports will be in a position to leverage the expertise it has built as a world-class operator to grow Serbia’s main airport into a major hub for south-eastern Europe (it catered to 5.3 million passengers in 2017) and to drive its development.
VINCI Airports has signed a 25-year concession agreement for the financing, development through construction and reconstruction, maintenance and management of infrastructure of Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport. With around 5.3 million passengers welcomed in 2017, Belgrade Nikola Tesla in the capital of the Republic of Serbia is the country’s main airport, serving as the hub of Serbian flag carrier Air Serbia, which accounts for more than 50% of the airport’s passenger traffic.
From the signing of the Concession Agreement, starts a 6 months period during which VINCI Airports has to meet the Conditions Precedent detailed in the Concession Agreement, such as the signing and entry into force of the financing agreements. Once the Conditions Precedent met, the Concession will start.
Nicolas Notebaert, President of VINCI Airports, said: "We believe in the high potential of Belgrade as a leisure and business destination and we want to help the airport realise this potential." As concessionaire, VINCI Airports will aim at improving airport operating conditions to enable Air Serbia to offer new long-haul routes as part of its hub strategy. VINCI Airports will build on its partnerships with over 200 airlines to further increase the airport’s traffic and connectivity, in line with Serbia’s strong economic growth potential.
This success marks a new stage in VINCI Airports’ expansion outside France. Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport will serve as the company's “hub” in Southeast Europe, a geographical area in which VINCI Airports has not operated until now.