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Chile's new govt promises to launch Santiago's airport tender "soon"

Chile's new govt promises to launch Santiago's airport tender "soon"

Posted by Juan Gavasa on March 14, 2014

Chile's new public works minister Alberto Undurraga promised to launch the US$716mn Santiago international airport expansion tender as soon as the state audit office clears the project. Undurraga took office March 11 as part of the first cabinet of President Michelle Bachelet.

While the previous administration launched and awarded in recent months several key bridge, hospital and highway projects, disagreements with civil aviation authorities have delayed the launch of the tender for expanding Arturo Merino Benitez airport. Public works ministry MOP filed all tender documents in early February, and the state audit office usually takes a month to review such projects.

"The process will start as soon as it comes out of the audit office," Undurraga told reporters. While new authorities have criticized other tenders such as the US$1.1bn Américo Vespucio Oriente expressway and US$1.9bn in hospitals, the minister backed Santiago's international airport expansion.

"We're studying the tender documents. In general, they seem to be in the right direction. Any specific adjustment would be done without delaying the tender," Undurraga said. "We won't delay this tender because it's critical for the country," he added.

The airport expansion aims to serve 29mn passengers by 2030 and 50mn by 2045. According to BNamericas stats, Santiago's airport traffic will grow 11% to 15.4mn passengers this year, exceeding MOP's estimates which range from 13.5mn to 15.1mn. Santiago accounts for nearly 70% of Chile's airport passenger traffic. BNamericas estimated passenger traffic will grow between 5% and 9% in the next four years to break the 20mn mark in 2018.

The new concession will include construction of a 200,000m2 terminal with two wings exclusively for international flights, and two additional wings that will "swing" between international and domestic flights.

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