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EBRD funds Albania airport expansion

Tirana’s Airport is to be further modernized with funds worth €46 million (about $72 million) provided by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

The loan announced on Saturday includes projects comprising the extension of the new passenger terminal at the Albanian capital’s Mother Teresa International Airport, TIA, constructing additional airport buildings and investments in new equipment and systems. The expansion is expected to start in the summer of 2008 with completion in 2009. “These loans will help TIA to raise even further the profile of the highly successful infrastructure facility in the Albanian capital, to the benefit of both our company and Albania,” said the Chairman of the Administrative Council of TIA, Reinhard Kalenda. The planned expansion comes amid increased passenger and cargo traffic at TIA, and only a year after the new terminal was completed.

In 2007 TIA, recorded its best year in terms of passenger numbers and cargo traffic, serving 1.1 million passengers and handling 3,483 tons of cargo. Passenger numbers increased by 22% compared to 2006 and cargo by 65%. There was a 15% increase in the number of flights. “This project is crucially important to Albania’s economic development. The terms of the new loan send a clear and positive message about the state of development of the commercial, political and legal environment for public-private partnerships in Albania,” said Sue Barrett, EBRD Director for Transport. “Its innovative structure makes it a showcase for private-sector investment in medium-sized airport operations in the region. This is a model that could well be replicated elsewhere in south east Europe,” she added.

Tirana International Airport is a limited liability company set up by Hochtief Airport GmbH, Deutsche Investitions und Entwicklungsgesellschaft and the Albanian-American Enterprise Fund. The company was granted a 20-years concession by the Albania government in 2005, signalling the first public-private partnership in the country’s history. Currently, 15 airlines use TIA, connecting the Albanian capital directly with 30 destinations. (BIRN)