Private airport project stalls before takeoff

06 December 2002

The government has abandoned long-held plans for a private operator to complete and manage the country's largest airport and instead on 4 December invited companies to express an interest in carrying out construction works only at Houari Boumediene international airport close to Algiers (MEED 12:4:02).

Two companies submitted bids by the 27 November deadline for the 25-year concession to finish off construction and manage the airport, which is only 85 per cent built. However, the government was forced to reject the offers, as neither the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) nor Malaysia's Jawala Corporation complied with the tender procedures. A third offer, from SNC Lavalin of Canada, was ruled out because it was received after the bid deadline.

Washington-based Sterling Merchant Finance was advising the government on the concession (MEED 4:5:01).

As a result, the Transport Ministry invited contractors to express interest in the first phase of the airport's development. The work includes completion of the existing terminal and the construction of a VIP lounge. The selected contractor will also build an apron of 80,000 square metres, a 60,000-square metre sliproad, a road network, car parking facilities for 2,700 vehicles and other associated works, including a hydrant system. Companies have until 15 December to respond to the inquiry.

Transport Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said that the government remained determined to complete construction and hopes to secure foreign technical assistance in bringing the country's principal airport up to international standards. It is expected that the government will turn the airport over to private management once construction is completed.

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