Albanian President Ilir Meta has returned to parliament, the law for the extension of the concession agreement for the Mother Theresa Airport.
In December 2020, Kastrati Group purchased the concession for the country’s only operational airport from a Chinese company. This gave Kastrati the right to operate the airport for the remaining 6 years of the 22 years in the original concession contract of 2004. Following the sale, the government proposed extending the concession by 13 years in return for Kastrati pledging to invest some EUR 100 million in the airport. The proposal was approved by parliament and sent to the president.
The law was sent for approval to Meta who refused to approve it. He published his reasons as follows:
- The procedure and extension of the term of the concession contract was done in violation of the constitutional principles of free and fair competition;
- The procedure and extension of the contract term was done without competition, without waiting for the completion of the concession to open a transparent tender;
- The procedure and extension of the contract violates the standards and values of the European Union and the provisions of the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA);
- The procedure and extension of the term of the concession contract is with an accelerated procedure in violation of the Constitution and the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly;
- The extension of the contract term changes the essential conditions of the basic concession contract and avoids the legal procedure for opening a new tender. This violates the right to competition;
- The reasons that led the government to choose as an option the extension of the existing concession contract are unsubstantiated and unrealistic;
- The extension of the contract term was done without an analysis of the seriousness and financial stability of the company “Kastrati shpk”;
- The extension of the contract does not take into account the national security, the security for the provision of uninterrupted and pristine airport service, and the financial interest of the country;
- The contract avoids the implementation of the requirements of some other laws, such as the law “On notary”, “On the approval of the National Security Strategy of the Republic of Albania”, and the law “On international agreements in the Republic of Albania”;
- The extension of the contract term was done without assessing the dominant position that the winning company can create in the field of transport.
The Kastrati Group controls a portion of the Port of Durres, the Kukes Airport and has a concession contract for the management of the Road of the Nation which links Albania with Kosovo.