From: Alice Taylor
Rama Said Kukes Airport Will Create 1000 Direct Jobs and Thousands More Indirect Jobs

Prime Minister Edi Rama has appeared at Kukes Airport today and claimed that when it’s finished, it will create 1000 direct jobs and thousands of other indirect jobs.

He said that the construction of the airport will increase the interest of foreign investors in mountain tourism.

Rama said:

“How many campaigns did it take to reach the day that thee airport really turned into a construction site? Some of those who don’t want to understand, say that the airport was ready. But if it was really ready, imagine how many times Sali [Berisha] would have inaugurated it, but it wasn’t read. It was a runway built with the generosity of the King of the United Arab Emirates…built to simply and only bring aid to those who were displaced by the violence of ethnic cleansing from Kosovo. It was absolutely not a runway that could serve as an international airport..”

He said the construction work is underway and working intensively.

Rama said that for every EUR 1 invested, it will bring EUR 17-23 as a result.

The airport was constructed in 2006 but was never used internationally.  Then, the Rama 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.