Spain’s new centre right government scrapped a plan to privatize Madrid and Barcelona airports, the country’s two largest cargo hubs, citing market volatility amid Europe’s sovereign debt crisis.
The Socialist administration, ousted in parliamentary elections in November, set a minimum price of $4.8 billion for 90 percent of a 20-year operating concession at Madrid Barajas and $2 billion for a similar concession for Barcelona Prat.
“Current market conditions are clearly unfavorable” for a sale, said Transport Minister Ana Pastor.
The government said it will work on an alternative plan to inject private capital into Spain’s airports. This could include selling a stake in Aena, the national airport management authority, rather than privatizing individual airports.
Six groups expressed interest in bidding for both Madrid and Barcelona airports, including Ferrovial, the Spanish infrastructure company that owns London Heathrow airport, Europe’s fourth largest cargo hub, and Aeroports de Paris, operator of Paris Charles de Gaulle, Europe’s largest freight airport Fraport, owner of Frankfurt airport, Europe’s number two freight hub, dropped out of the bidding for both airports earlier this month because of conditions attached to the sale.
Madrid airport handled 393,431 metric tons of cargo in 2011, an increase of 5.2 percent on the previous year. Cargo traffic at Barcelona declined 7.4 percent to 96,600 tons.
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