Madrid and Barcelona ready for take off

The privatisation of Spain’s Madrid and Barcelona airports – the country’s two premier airports – is due to launch imminently, airports operator Aena Aeropuertos recently announced.

In a presentation released by Aena, the airports operator said it will transfer Madrid’s Barajas and Barcelona’s El Prat airports to two special purpose vehicles (SPV), fully owned by Aena. The airports operator will then sell “a large majority stake” in the two SPVs to the private sector, while keeping a minority stake in the two vehicles.  Juan Ignacio Lema, the head of Aena, had previously told reporters that Aena was aiming to keep a stake of around 20 percent in both vehicles.

Aena said it would tender both airports to the private sector for a period of 15 years, extendable for a further five years. It added that the airport concessions were primarily a brownfield play, since both “airports have just completed significant investments to expand their infrastructure, ensuring the capacity to handle passenger volume until 2025-2030,” it said in a statement.

The private partner will be remunerated from revenues derived from exploiting airport infrastructure, including income from commercial businesses and real estate development, as well as regulated tariffs. Aena explained tariffs shall be adjusted using a “single-till model, i.e., it includes a portion of the revenues generated by commercial activities in order to subsidise aviation fees.”

In addition to paying Aena an upfront fee for the acquisition of the airport stakes, the concessionaires will also be obliged to pay an annual fee, “defined as the maximum between a fixed fee and a percentage of total revenues,” Aena said.

Aena recently appointed Royal Bank of Scotland to assist it with the tenders for Madrid and Barcelona airports as well as the privatisation of up to 49 percent of its capital. The government calls Aena the “world’s largest airports operator”, managing 47 airports across Spain and holding stakes in 27 airports throughout the world.