Tycoon to Run Armeniašs Main Airport
By Nor Gyank
The government and an Argentinian billionaire of Armenian origin,
Eduardo Eurnekian, finalized on Saturday an agreement that will
place Armeniašs main airport under his control for the next
50 years. Eurnekianšs Aeropuertos Argentina group will be granted
management rights to Zvartnots International Airport in a deal
which officials hope will bring it into conformity with international
The Argentinian tycoon pledged to invest $50 million for that
purpose. The money will be spent on construction of new airport
facilities, upgrading of existing ones and re-training of personnel.
It will also be used for boosting safety standards at Zvatnots,
including expansion of its runway.
The chief of Armeniašs civil aviation authority, Hovannes Yeritsian,
told reporters after signing a "memorandum of mutual understanding"
with the Argentinian company that the investments are vital
for the aviation sector. He said that adequate airport infrastructure
and services will benefit the tourism sector by helping the
country attract more visitors.
Zvartnots, which was built in 1981, will remain state-owned
despite being run by a foreign company. It is expected that
a final agreement on the change of management will be signed
during President Robert Kocharianšs visit to Argentina due later
this year or early next year.
Kocharian welcomed the planned deal on Saturday. "The state
is not the most efficient owner," he told Eurnekian at his official
residence. "The executive authority should not run a business,
it should create normal conditions for economic activity."
With Aeropuertos Argentina owning and operating 33 airports
across South America, Eurnekian is thought to be one of the
wealthiest ethnic Armenians in the world. A member of the Board
of Trustees of the All-Armenian Fund Hayastan, he has donated
over $1 million to the charity.
Speaking to journalists, Eurnekian indicated that he is unlikely
to take part in the planned privitization of the state-run Armenian
Airlines. The government so far has set no dates for the start
of what is likely to be an international tender for the troubled