Tirana, March 6 (AFP/APP): Albania has given an international consortium the greenlight to build an airport on the Adriatic sea.
a project that environmentalists say poses a major threat to a coastal conversation area. The more than 100-million-euro airport near the southwest city of Vlora will be built by Mabco Construction, which will also manage the site for 35 years, according to the Albanian Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy.
“Airports bring jobs and development,” Prime Minister Edi Rama said at the announcement, hailing the project’s economic potential. The government hopes the country’s second international airport will increase tourism along a coastline that has become an increasingly popular holiday destination in recent years, before the coronavirus pandemic hit the sector.
But environmental NGOs say the project poses a grave risk to protected wetlands and a lagoon on the Adriatic that are home to numerous endangered birds. Dozens of national and international environmental organisations have previously warned the project would “irreversibly damage” the ecosystem of the Vjose-Narte protected zone, which spans more than 19,000 hectares.
The construction and management consortium consists mainly of the Swiss-based Mabetex company — run by Kosovo businessman and former minister Behgjet Pacoll — and the Turkey-based YDA group. Albania’s Infrastructure Minister Belinda Balluku hailed their “great” results with six other airports around the world.
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