Manchester Airports Group (MAG), the operator of Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands airports in the UK, is looking to expand its portfolio by submitting a tender to operate Sofia Airport in Bulgaria.
MAG’s bid will be supported by Chinese construction giant BCEG, which is already working with MAG in Manchester. According to MAG, a team of local advisers has spent more than two years analyzing the potential of Sofia Airport. The consortium is the first to confirm its participation in the tender process.
Charlie Cornish, chief executive, MAG, said, “We have already undertaken a considerable amount of work in relation to this opportunity and have a clear vision as to how we will deliver a passenger experience and global route network for Sofia Airport that is comparable to other top tier airports around the world. We want to deliver direct international connectivity to Bulgaria to stimulate tourism and economic growth.
“We have prioritized our international development activity to focus on Sofia Airport which would be one of the ‘jewels in our crown’ and our most significant overseas investment to date.”
MAG’s most recent acquisition was its purchase of London Stansted Airport in 2013. London Stansted has been transformed under MAG with passenger numbers increasing by 40% to 26 million passengers per year.
Chris Grayling MP, secretary of state for transport for the UK, said, “MAG has invested heavily in its airports in the UK and has seen consistent, sustainable growth. I am pleased to support their bid to share this success at Sofia Airport and a trusted airport operator like MAG is the right company to be investing in Bulgaria as Britain seeks to strengthen its economic ties.”
MAG’s partner, Chinese state-owned BCEG, is currently building Beijing Daxing International Airport, China, which comprises nine runways and a 1,400,000m² (13,000,000ft²) terminal area. It is also expected to eventually serve more than 130 million passengers annually. Phase one of the new airport will be opened next year.
Xing Yan, regional director of BCEG International, said, “To be joining with our partners MAG to take part in the selection process for the concession for Sofia Airport is a real honor for us.
“We see our involvement in our bid for Sofia Airport as an extension of the memorandum of understanding between China and Bulgaria as part of the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative. The project represents a real opportunity for us to further explore joint infrastructure opportunities.”