Sacyr Claims €518.5M from Government of Murcia for its Ghost Airport

23 April 2018 – El Confidencial

Sacyr wants to take the conflict with the Region of Murcia over the private airport in Corvera to its logical conclusion. The construction company chaired by Manuel Manrique is claiming €518.5 million from the Regional (Partido Popular) government for the suspension of the concession to operate the airport infrastructure, which has ended up in the hands of the public entity Aena. The company in which the Murcian owner of El Pozo also owns a stake is demanding twice the amount that it cost it to construct the property.

According to an internal document from Sacyr, the ‘Concessionaire Company of the Airport for the Region of Murcia’ (‘Sociedad Concesionaria del Aeropuerto de la Región de Murcia’ or SCAM) filed a report on 17 January urging the autonomous government to issue a resolution to award the concessionaire a settlement of €518.5 million. That petition comes almost five years after the Government, now chaired by Fernando López Miras, terminated the contract for an alleged breach and a month after the Murican Executive agreed the management of the private airport with Aena – which is controlled by the State – for the next 25 years.

The claim is based on three concepts. The first relates to the investments and costs incurred by SCAM, in which Sacyr holds an 80% stake, for the development and execution of the concession contract. That sum amounted to €256.69 million as at 22 March 2016, the date immediately prior to when the Region of Murcia took ownership of the asset, plus an additional €1.97 million for the maintenance work carried out by the construction company until 30 September last year.

Sacyr and its shareholders, which include Banco Sabadell and Grupo Fuertes (El Pozo), the largest industrial group in Murcia, are also claiming €35.1 million in extra costs borne by the company resulting from the early termination of the concession contract, amounts that “must also be updated at the date of their reimbursement and/or settlement”. Finally, the company is demanding €224.82 million for the profit forgone or forecast loss, as assessed by an independent expert, whose identity has not been revealed by Sacyr.

The Corvera airport was awarded to Sacyr in 2007 (…). Nevertheless, after construction was completed in 2012, it could not be opened due to insurmountable differences that were so great they even led to the intervention of the Guardia Civil.

After long disputes (…) and some unsuccessful negotiations, the regional Government expropriated the airport and awarded it again at the end of last year. The winner was Aena (…), which undertook to manage the airport in exchange for closing the San Javier military airfield, closer to the Mar Menor and just 30 km from Corvera.

The new airport, which is expected to begin operation in December, is going to be called Juan de la Cierva, in honour of the Murcian man who invented the gyroplane. The infrastructure is expected to receive 800,000 international tourists during its first four years and will be able to handle 3.5 million passengers per year. Initial forecasts indicate sales of €495.8 million during the 25-year concession. Its largest competitor will continue to be the airport in Alicante, which handles more than 12 million users per year.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Agustín Marco)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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