The first phase of modernisation of Bucharest's Otopeni Airport has been inaugurated by Romanian transport minister Traian Basescu.

The $120 million project was carried out by Romairport, a consortium led by Italian Milan Airport managing company SEA. The programme includes the construction of a terminal, developed from an unfinished building from the Communist era. One of the two parallel 3,500m (11,500ft) runways has also been refurbished.

The first-phase improvements, due to be completed in April, will enable the airport to handle 3.5 million passengers annually, compared to 1.5 million previously. The second phase of work, also led by SEA, but still without financing, includes rehabilitation of the main terminal, which will be dedicated to arrivals and new taxiways.

Romania's parliament, meanwhile, has voted for a new law to speed up the privatisation of state-owned companies. Basescu says that one of the main projects is aimed at the aviation sector, with planned privatisation of all airport companies and national airline Tarom "as soon as possible", with no limits on foreign participation.

Bucharest Otopeni Airport, already profitable, is one of the main targets for privatisation. Transport undersecretary Aleador Francu says that other airports ready for privatisation include Constantia and Timisoara.

Source: Flight International