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Wrangling over opening of Corvera airport continues

President Valcárcel is “almost certain” a new concessionary can be sought by the end of the month

Wrangling over opening of Corvera airport continuesAirport stats for June are out, and whilst Alicante storms ahead with impressive flight statistics, Murcia languishes miserably behind, falling traffic at San Javier an irritant to local businesses who want to know when Corvera airport will finally open.

For the moment the airport remains resolutely shut as the regional government and former concessionary squabble over who is to blame, and there also appears to be some disagreement over when the management contract for the airport at Corvera can be put out to tender again. Whilst regional President Ramón Luís Valcárcel has stated that he is “almost certain” that proceedings will begin this month, other sources suggest that three months may be the minimum timescale, and that the aim ought to be for the new contract to be awarded by the end of the year.

The judicial department of the regional Ministry of Public Works has unsurprisingly dismissed the allegations levelled at the ministry by Sacyr, the leading participant in the previous concessionary Aeromur, despite Sacyr’s conviction that it is the government itself which is to blame for the fiasco at Corvera. The airport’s planned opening date has passed, and both the concessionary and the government continue to blame each other for the delay, Sacyr’s case being presented in a 100-page defence document which was filed on 4th June after the ministry’s intention to rescind the contract was announced.

Further reports now have to be issued by the regional government’s judicial division and the judiciary of the Region itself, and these bodies have three months in which to reach an opinion (although this deadline can be extended if it is deemed necessary). The government is keen to close this chapter in the saga in order to finalize a new contract by the end of the year, and is determined that the wrangling with Sacyr should not constitute an obstacle in the progress towards opening the Corvera facility. Government officials are confident that the next two judicial reports will back up their stance.

The legal situation is that the new contract cannot be put out to tender until the old one has been rescinded: if this were to happen then Sacyr could stop proceedings, and they have recourse to do the same thing if it is clear that more favourable conditions are offered to the new concessionaire than has been the case in the past.

All of which is difficult to reconcile with the Sr Valcárcel’s optimism that the process can move ahead before the end of this month…
 Yesterday Ramón Luis Valcárcel, the President of the government of the Region of Murcia, announced that it is “almost completely certain” that the management and running of the new airport in Corvera will be put out to tender again before the end of this month, a confusing contradiction.
But regardless of the political to-ing and fro-ing over this subject the key question, and the only one which will really matter to the general public waiting to book flights coming into the airport is whether there will be anyone interested in actually taking on the contract, given the reluctance of Aena to close San Javier and the economic situation which dictates that Corvera will not be financially viable unless san Javier does close, particularly if the new concessionary also assumes debts which currently relate to the money spent on construction so far.

When asked this question, Sr Valcárcel responded to the journalist concerned that he has “no idea”, although he supposes that there will be some interest because he insists that the airport is a necessity for the Region, and as such its profitability is guaranteed.

He also expressed the hope that the airport will be up and running by next Easter, despite the more or less inevitable accusations which he accepts will be made by Sacyr, the leading shareholder in former concessionary group Aeromur. These accusations result from the decision in May to begin proceedings to rescind Aeromur’s management contract on the grounds that the company had failed to meet the conditions stipulated within it, specifically that they had not managed to meet the deadline for opening the airport. Aeromur now has a period in which to present allegations, after which the regional government will have to make a series of reports to the judiciary, a process which could last months as reported above.

Meanwhile, Alicante airport continues to storm ahead, registering impressive statistics for the month of June, with nearly 997,000 passengers, an increase of 11% over the same month of last year, and back to the same levels as during the boom years, whilst San Javier clocked up just 144,735 passengers, a decline of -5.8% on the same month last year, and 60,000 passengers below the levels of 2007 when 202,000 passengers arrived in San Javier.

Local businesses are only interested in one thing: the opening date of Corvera airport and increased takings through all of our tills.
Click for: Full historical series of articles about Corvera airport
 Image: The President of the region of Murcia, Ramón Luis Valcárcel visiting the airport during construction

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