Sweden proposes separating and privatising airports

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Sweden’s Government is proposing to restructure the country’s unified airports and air navigation service LFV Group by splitting the organisation into two state-owned companies, which could eventually lead to the privatisation of several airports including Gothenburg Landvetter and Malmo Sturup.

Under the proposal, which will be the subject of a consultation, airports management would be separated from air traffic control by 1 January 2009. Forty-one airports would then be subdivided into three categories: national strategic airports, regional airports, and other smaller airports.

Sixteen of these airports are currently overseen by LFV, which also manages 35 air traffic control facilities in Sweden including the area centres at Stockholm and Malmo.

Swedish Government investigator Christina Rogestam, who is behind the plan, tells ATI that the separation scheme would ensure there is “no suspicion” of cross-subsidisation between the smaller and larger airports.

Rogestam says the ‘national’ category would include ten airports: Stockholm Arlanda, Stockholm Bromma, Gothenburg Landvetter, Malmo Sturup, Kiruna, Lulea, Umea, Visby, Arvidsjaur and Ostersund. These airports would receive 100% state support.

Another 27 airports, the ‘regional’ facilities, would have 75% support. These airports would include Gothenburg City, Stockholm Skavsta, Jonkoping, Kalmar, Karlstad, Kristianstad, Vaxjo, Angelholm and others.

Four airports, including Norrkoping and Vasteras, would comprise the final category. These would not receive any state support.

Rogestam says that dividing the airports into the three categories will enable state resources to be concentrated on those facilities which contribute the most towards providing national and international access.

But the proposal goes further, suggesting that the Government should open some of the airports to private investors. It says the Government should consider talks to introduce local or private shareholders to the regional airports, and even suggests that larger airports – particularly Gothenburg Landvetter and Malmo – be considered for privatisation.

Rogestam claims this process would make the newly-created airports organisation more effective by enabling it to bring in experienced airport management specialists.

LFV Group says that it broadly supports the initiative, although a spokesman for the organisation says that the proposal is still at an early stage and has yet to receive comment from interested parties.

Sweden’s civil aviation structure underwent a separation at the beginning of 2005 when regulatory functions were split from operational activities. The regulatory functions were established as Swedish civil aviation authority Luftfartsstyrelsen while LFV Group concentrated on operations.