A local airport builder says the tender for the country’s largest airport may be launched this month. Foreigners are showing a great interest, the firm says.
Passengers walk out of a plane at the tarmac of Istanbul’s Atatürk International Airport, which is hardly meeting a rising demand in recent years.
Turkey is expected to outline terms for the construction of a third airport in Istanbul in the coming weeks and the planned tender is already generating high interest, the head of Turkish infrastructure group Limak Yatırım Holding said. Passenger traffic through Istanbul has risen sharply in recent years as flag carrier Turkish Airlines, one of the world’s fastest growing carriers, has expanded routes around the world using the city as its hub.
The third Istanbul airport is planned to have an initial capacity for 90 million passengers a year, extending eventually to 150 million passengers, and three runways.
Investors looking for local partners
“We expect the tender terms to be released this month. There is big interest from international and domestic players in the process,” Limak Yatırım chairwoman Ebru Özdemir told Reuters, adding it might consider entering a bid.
“Especially foreign firms are knocking at our door for partnering for the tender,” she said, but declined to give details on which companies might be interested.
Özdemir said Istanbul’s second airport, Sabiha Gokcen, in which Limak holds a 40 percent operating stake, would see passenger numbers rise more than 20 percent this year.
Sabiha Gökçen, in which India’s GMR Infrastructure and Malaysia Airports Holding also have operating stakes, is expected to handle around 18 million passengers in 2013, up from 14.9 million last year, she said.
Turkish Airlines, which serves 217 destinations, is expected to shift some of its international flights to Sabiha Gökçen, which is located on the Asian side of Istanbul, from the main Atatürk Airport on the European side of the Bosphorus strait.
Limak Yatırım planned to bid at a tender expected this year for a second runway at Sabiha Gökçen, which could boost passenger numbers to 70-80 million and is expected to be operational in 2016, Özdemir said.
Sabiha Gökçen has hired Bank of America Merrill Lynch, RBS and UniCredit for a debut Eurobond, sources told IFR and Reuters on Wednesday. In December, it won approval from the Capital Markets Board to issue bonds worth up to 500 million euros or the equivalent in U.S. dollars.
Özdemir’s statements came only days after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s remarks that a tender for a separate large project, Istanbul Canal, would probably held in the first quarter of the year.
Publicly known as the “crazy project,” the 45 to 50 kilometers canal will link Turkey’s will link the inner Marmara Sea to the Black Sea, creating a big island on Istanbul’s European side.