Uncertainty over the current situation, and indeed the future of, the new international airport at Corvera continues.
Yesterday, the coordinator of the IU-Verdes in the Region of Murcia, José Antonio Pujante, entered into the fray, commenting on the news that Aena ( who run airport operations in all Spanish publicly owned airports) has put out to tender a contract to build and operate a new duty-free shop in the existing San Javier airport.
This new duty-free shop will come into operation in 2013.
This particular piece of news is attracting the ire of Pujante as, according to the original schedules announced byAeromur ( the company building and operating the new Corvera airport) and the Murcian regional government, the new airport at Corvera should be opening in October of 2012, and the civilian traffic operations of San Javier closing down and relocating at Corvera.
Pujante said that decision of Aena to continue with plans to build a new duty-free shop at San Javier, opening six months after it should have closed down, showed that" there are serious difficulties relating to the viability of the Private airport at Corvera. "
He went on to say that the regional government had created a " Damocles sword for itself, this being the loan guarantee for the construction of the airport, which, should it be executed, would force the regional government into a state of bankruptcy."
By this, he is referring to a 200 million Euro loan guarantee given by the Region of Murcia government to the concessionary, Aeromur, to enable construction of the new airport to be completed.
However, current difficulties in obtaining the relevant licences are causing delays, ( see previous articles posted relating to conflicts with Military airspace at Corvera ) which in turn is creating a situation whereby Aeromur are being forced to renegotiate their loan agreements for the construction of the airport.
At the weekend the regional press reported that the concessionary was renegotiating with the banks, and has asked them to extend the term of the loan agreement by one year
The original loan was granted with specific conditions relating to the opening of the airport, but in the light of the current delays in beginning operations, it is currently impossible for the concessionary to meet the repayment terms, so for this reason a further year is being requested over and above the two years originally negotiated.
Should the concessionary fail to make the repayments scheduled, the airport, and the loan, will default to the regional government, however, this issue is also complicated by the current financial position in which the regional government finds itself, due to the economic crisis, and its own credit rating, which has been downgraded by the Moody's ratings agency several times during the last few months, and is now at junk level.
This week, President Valcárcel, the President of the Region of Murcia, confirmed that the region would be seeking access to central government financial assistance to the level of between 200 and €300 million in September to enable it to meet its current loan requirements.
Taking on an additional 200 million euro loan, it would appear, is not an option for the regional government.
The regional Minister for Public works, Antonio Sevilla, has recently confirmed that negotiations continue between Aena, Aeromur, the Ministry of Defence, and the Ministry for Development to obtain the relevant permits, which will enable Corvera to open, and resolve the issues relating to the relocation of San Javier operations and the use of military airspace.
Meanwhile, Aeromur continue to negotiate an extension of one year on the outstanding loan of €200 million.
Sources: Archive, La Verdad, IU-Verdes, Region of Murcia
Image: The completed airport lacks only permits.Copyright MT
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