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Airport for Sale Tells a Tale of $140 Billion Turkish Overreach

The operator of a provincial airport in western Turkey is putting it up for sale in a rare indictment of a system of public-private partnerships that are hobbling the nation’s finances. 

Closely held IC Ictas, which entered into a partnership with the government nine years ago to build and operate Zafer Airport, is waiting for offers following a slump in passenger use, according the airport’s chairman, Abdullah Keles. Built at a cost of more than 50 million euros ($59 million), Zafer, located about 374 kilometers (234 miles) south of Istanbul, has seen traffic all but disappear amid the pandemic. In the last year before the virus erupted, it registered little more than 6% of the 1.3 million passenger target level below which IC Ictas is entitled to government guaranteed payments. The number barely rose above 7,000 this year.