Air Transport World

Prague's balanced approach: the airport relies on a mix of network and low-cost carriers to maintain strong growth.(AIRPORTS)(Report)

PRAGUE RUZYNE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT IS ONE OF the few midsized airports currently up for sale, and insiders expect the price tag could top CZK75 billion ([euro]3 billion). The intent to privatize the Czech Republic's main gateway, which ranks 29th in passengers among airports in Europe, according to ACI, is certainly not new, but it got the ultimate go-ahead from the government in November.

Credit Suisse Securities, which was appointed by the Finance Ministry as adviser, finalized its report on the most suitable method of the sale and the size in March. When this was being printed, reports indicated CS would recommend a direct sale over an IPO and that interested candidates would be asked to file bids by mid-January 2009. A decision on a winner of the tender should be made in mid-February. PRG is not the only aviation asset the Czech government intends to sell. Flag carrier CSA Czech Airlines, which generates more than 40% of the airport's revenues, also is slated for privatization.

"We expect the [airport] privatization to take place in the first quarter of 2009," PRG Executive Director-Aviation Commerce and Operation Jiri Pos says, noting that the choice of process is a government decision. "What I can confirm is that the interest is global and that there is an active interest from other airport operators, from infrastructure companies and from investment funds."

Last year, 12.4 million passengers traveled through PRG, up 7.4% over 2006. "We managed to double the number of passengers in the last five years," declares Pos, citing the airport's "exceptional location" in the center of Europe and the Czech Republic's accession to the EU in 2004 as main drivers of the solid growth.

According to data compiled by consultancy Arthur D. Little for this magazine, PRG added 6.3 million passengers between 2001 and 2007, representing a CAGR of 12.6%, 2.1 points above the average of the eight largest airports in Central and Eastern Europe (see table, p. …

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