A consortium led by French asset manager Meridiam has signed an agreement with the Bulgarian transport ministry to operate Sofia Airport for 35 years.

The move comes more than a month after a local court approved the selection of the consortium, which also includes Munich Airport, as the concessionaire of the main international airport in Bulgaria.

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Last July, the Meridiam consortium was selected by the transport ministry through a competitive process. However, the decision was challenged by other bidders.

During the signing ceremony, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov was quoted by the news agency as saying: “I do hope that after these restrictions over travel because of the pandemic are lifted Sofia Airport will work again as one of the best airports in the region.”

He also emphasised that the deal was carried out transparently.

According to a Reuters report, Meridiam is offering an annual concession fee of €24.5m ($28.24m) and an investment of €608m.

The consortium will also make an upfront payment of $325.3m.

As agreed, the winning consortium will be responsible for operations, as well as for renovation works at the airport. They are also expected to build a third passenger terminal and a new cargo terminal.

Strabag, an Austrian construction company, owns a 1% stake in the winning consortium.

Sofia Airport is located around 10km from the centre of the capital. Last year, the airport served more than seven million passengers.

However, it witnessed a sharp drop in business following the Covid-19 pandemic.