Palma.—Spain's debt-struck government says it plans to sell off a stake in airport operator AENA to private investors this year.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's government scrapped the previous Socialist government's plans to privatise the Madrid-Barajas and Barcelona-El Prat airports when it took power just over a year ago.

But it is still seeking new ways to raise finances and slash the public deficit. “Our idea is that in the next financial year private enterprise will be able to enter to form part of the capital of AENA,” Development Minister Ana Pastor said.

The state-funded AENA, which operates 47 airports in Spain and 26 abroad, has built up debts of 14 billion euros.
In October, it announced voluntary redundancies affecting up to 1'600 of its 15'000 employees.
The Spanish government believes it would be “unacceptable” to grant a concession for the Madrid and Barcelona airports while holding on to such a debt, Pastor said.

Spain, which lived through a construction boom that collapsed in 2008, has 49 commercial airports for international flights, the most of any country in Europe.

Some of them host only a handful of flights a day while others handle no commercial flights at all.
Pastor said her ministry would devote 10 billion euros to investments in 2013 out of a total budget of 18.4 billion euros.
Present and previous Balearic governments and the business community have been pushing for a role in the running of Palma airport for years and welcomed the previous government's announcement to sell part of AENA off and will now be looking to have a role in the future of Palma airport while trying to prevent a foreign private investor from stepping in.

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