Albania calls for offers to build southern airport

TIRANA, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Albania’s government invited foreign firms on Thursday to submit by March 12 offers to build and operate for 35 years an airport near the southern town of Vlore after it failed to reach a deal with a group of Turkish companies.

Building new airports became possible because Tirana International Airport (TIA), fully-owned by China Everbright Limited, renounced its exclusivity after Albania sweetened its contract to allow airports in the south and north.

The government believes new airports will bring air travel costs down since Albanians continue to pay high prices for flights out of their only international airport.

Many citizens and travel agencies use airports in neighbouring Macedonia, Montenegro and Kosovo because they have attracted more low-cost airlines.

“The international open tender for the Vlore Airport will close on March 12 next year,” Finance Minister Anila Denaj said.

“This investment is a catalyst for the whole economy and especially for the whole south,” she added.

Allowing time for complaints and the negotiation of a contract, the government hopes work will start on May 31.

Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama, whose constituency is Vlore, announced in January, 2018 that Turkish companies Cengiz Construction, Kaylon Construction and Kolin Construction would build the airport, but the deal came to nothing. (Reporting by Benet Koleka, editing by Ed Osmond)