A tender was originally scheduled for late December, but it is understood that the ministry has been waiting for a firm commitment from the World Bank over funding for the project. Final approval for a $325 million concessionary loan is due from the board of the bank on 15 March. The loan will also be used to part-finance the $44 million expansion of Sharm el-Sheikh airport, for which 21 groups are prequalified and for which a full tender is due on the same day. The remaining funding will be provided by the state-owned National Investment Bank.

The tender and loan agreement will coincide with the results of a study on restructuring the management of six of Egypt’s largest airports, including Cairo and Sharm. Senior officials from the Civil Aviation Ministry conducted a tour of Europe in early February to elicit interest from international companies in the management of the airports, which also include Hurghada and three airports in the south.

The financial adviser, BNP Paribas, is expected to issue invitations to bid in the second quarter (MEED 27:2:04, Cover Story).

Under a $235 million, three-year upgrade and expansion programme, the government plans to build a new international airport at Borg el-Arab and expand existing airports at Luxor and Hurghada, as well as setting up an operational database system in Cairo and a central control centre to link six regional airports to the capital (MEED 24:10:03).