Paraguay again set to privatise Asunción Airport; what will the interest be this time?

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The privatisation of airports caught on rapidly in Latin America two and a half decades ago – initially in Mexico and Argentina, latterly in Brazil – and is to be found in many other countries in the region now. One exception was Paraguay, the small state sandwiched between Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.

Paraguay has a mindset of its own, and that has manifested in this industry in an avoidance of privatisation activity, but that was not always the case. A PPP (Public-Private Partnership) deal was to have been struck in 2015 for the Asunción Airport, which serves the capital, but it was suspended following several legal glitches of the kind that are commonplace in that part of the world.

Ultimately, the civil aviation authority decreed that a new terminal at the airport would be self-funded instead – but that was never going to happen. So in 2023 a partnership deal is back on the cards and both the newly elected president and the defeated challenger are in favour of it.

The question now is whether previously interested parties (there were quite a few) can be enticed back, and if the regional leader can be attracted this time as well. On the surface the airport does not seem to have that much going for it...but that surface is there to be scratched beneath.

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