By Luiza Ilie
BUCHAREST, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Romania’s state-owned firm Bucharest Airports aims to break ground on an airport expansion project worth 818.5 million euros ($980 million) in 2022 to cope with double-digit rises in passenger numbers, company officials said on Wednesday.
Passenger traffic across Romania’s 17 airports rose by roughly 30 percent in the first half of the year to 9.2 million passengers, the Romanian Airports Association said.
Bucharest’s main Henri Coanda airport, where the expansion project is planned, expects a sharp rise in passenger numbers in 2017 from the 11 million it handled in 2016.
Henri Coanda’s expansion envisions adding modular terminals that would double its capacity, officials told investors on a tour organised by investment fund Fondul Proprietatea, which has a 20 percent stake in Bucharest Airports.
The company manages the main Henri Coanda airport and a smaller airport that also serves the capital.
The 818.5 million euro that needs to be raised for the expansion work at Henri Coanda airport does not include funds needed for land appropriation, which officials said the Transport Ministry would secure.
Fondul, which values its stake in Bucharest Airports at 167 million euros ($199.43 million), has long urged the government to consider listing a minority stake in the company.
Officials have not ruled out raising funds for the expansion project via a listing of shares in Bucharest Airports, which is controlled by Romania’s government.
The government wants to set up a sovereign wealth fund to hold a mix of cash and equity in some of the state’s most profitable companies to generate income and to help finance domestic investments, including roads and hospitals.
Bucharest Airports is among the companies that will be transferred to the fund. ($1 = 0.8374 euros) (Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Edmund Blair)