Prime Minister Edi Rama and the opposition clashed over the project of the Kukes airport.
Rama published a video, on Facebook showing the ongoing works. He said it’s “a very dreamy project, which will turn Kukës into an economic centre of the northeast and will strongly determine the future of the economy of Northeastern Albania ‘.
Shortly after the publication, the Democratic Party accused Rama of publishing propaganda with an airport that should have been operational three years ago.
“In the hope that airports and imaginary flights will divert attention from this scandal.”
The government awarded the concession contract for the reconstruction and operation of the airport to a consortium of Bami shpk and Global Technical Mechanics shpk in 2019. They said construction would take two years and the concession would be in place for 35.
The contract was not made public and the two companies involved have no experience in similar projects. Exit then revealed that the Kastrati Group, a company closely associated with the government, is behind Global Technical Mechanics and is the real beneficiary of the project. They are also the concession holder of the road that connects the airport with Kosovo and the rest of Albania.
Kastrati had previously submitted an unsolicited proposal to reconstruct and operate the airport which had been constructed in 2006. The government approved the proposal and opened the tender, awarding them an 8% bonus for the proposal.
There was only one bidder for the project, Bami shpk and Global Technical Mechanics shpk which was later revealed to be Kastrati.
Global Technical Mechanics was registered in 2017. Since its establishment, it has had no activity and has conducted no works. Its first work is expected to be the reconstruction and operation of Kukës Airport.
The only owner of the company is Ridgers Mema, 26 years old. Exit learned that Mr Mema is actually an employee of Kastrati Group.
Rama had previously posted a rendering of the airport on his Facebook page in 2018, saying that it would be fully operational within a year. The image turned out to be taken from the project for the expansion of a Georgian airport. Almost three years later, Kukes airport is still not operational.