MADRID, July 4 Spain said on Friday it will
freeze airport tariffs until 2025 in an effort to boost air
traffic in the country hit by years of high charges and a
prolonged economic crisis.
The measure, announced by Public Works Minister Ana Pastor
following the weekly cabinet meeting, comes just three weeks
after the government put almost half of its heavily indebted
airport operator AENA up for sale.
While the tariff freeze could initially weigh on the
company's revenues it should help restore its international
competitiveness and make the sale more attractive for investors,
AENA owns 46 airports in Spain and also has international
interests such as a stake in London's Luton Airport. The
operator is worth up to 16 billion euros ($21.8 billion) based
on valuations of similar companies at 10 times core profit.
The government announced in June that it will sell 28
percent of AENA in a public offering on the Madrid stock
exchange and will auction an additional 21 percent to long-term
AENA was one of the world's largest airport operators last
year, overseeing 187.4 million passengers. Spain's tourist
industry is worth around 11 percent of GDP and the country is
the world's third-largest holiday destination after France and
the United States.
Irish budget carrier Ryanair, one of the biggest
users of AENA-operated airports, has said it was interested in
participating in the privatisation.
Other major users of the airports include IAG, the
owner of British Airways, and Spanish carriers Iberia and
($1 = 0.7331 euros)
(Reporting by Paul Day; Editing by Julien Toyer and Susan