Serbia, France's Vinci sign Belgrade airport concession deal

Belgrade (AFP) –


Serbian government and French construction group Vinci Airports signed Thursday a deal worth 1.5 billion euros ($1.8 billion) on a 25-year concession to run Belgrade airport.

Vinci was awarded the concession in January after it offered 501 million euros upfront, plus an additional 732 million euros in investment and will also pay the Serbian state between 4.3 million and 16 millions in annual concessionary fees.

President of Vinci Airports Nicolas Notebaert said "Belgrade will be our leading airport in this part of the world."

"We will introduce flights for Lisbon and Chile," he said.

The beginning of Vinci's operation at the airport is expected in September.

"The contract will set Serbia as the air transport hub in the region," Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said.

Belgrade has high hopes for the airport, the Balkan region's largest, as it seeks to become a regional hub with national flag carrier Air Serbia, operating in partnership with Etihad Airways, carrying some 50 percent of passengers flying from the venue.

The Serbian government, which has an 83 percent stake in the airport, expects profits for 2017 to come in at 29 millions euros, up from 26 million in 2016.

Vinci Airports, which started out with a 1995 concession in Cambodia, now runs 35 airports handling more than 130 million passengers a year.