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Vora Airport and tourism development, Albania

Vlora Airport is opposed by many environmental organizations because the site is within the Vjosa-Narta Protected Landscape, a vital habitat for many bird species. Tourism development on adjoining sites, including a hotel and resort area, is planned.


A new airport near Narta Lagoon, in the Vjosa-Narta Protected Landscape, was approved by the Albanian parliament on 2nd February 2018. The government plans the airport to boost tourism in the south of the country. Narta Lagoon provides a valuable habitat for many bird species such as flamingos and the endangered Dalmatian pelican. It is situated in the mouth of the Vjosa River, one of the last remaining free-flowing rivers in Europe, flowing almost 270 kilometres from the Pindus mountains into a largely undeveloped segment of the Adriatic coastline. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Vora Airport and tourism development, Albania
State or province:Vjosa-Narta Protected Landscape
Location of conflict:Akerni
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Tourism facilities (ski resorts, hotels, marinas)
Ports and airport projects
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The winner of the concession to build Vlora Airport was announced in March 2021. Mabetex Group, registered in Switzerland and owned by Kosovan businessman Behgjet Pacolli, has 50% of the shares in the winning consortium. YDA Group has 48% and 2A Group has 2% [8]. If Vlora Airport’s passenger numbers and profits are not as high as expected the project could cost Albanian taxpayers EUR 138 million. Clauses in the contract state that taxpayers must pay up to this sum if the concession fails or is not profitable. The contract states that the project is high-risk as it will be built from scratch in an undeveloped area. It also states that a consultant contracted by the Contracting Authority forecasts a low rate of return of just 9.43%. The Albanian government will assume a ‘revenue guarantee’ which means paying the winning consortium if the project fails. The schedule states that the consortium could receive EUR 9.6 million in the first year of the contract, increasing in increments to EUR 18.6 million in the thirteenth year [9].

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Level of Investment for the conflictive projectUSD 122,672,160
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:02/02/2018
Company names or state enterprises:Mabetex Group from Switzerland - 50% of shares in consortium awarded Vlora Airport concession contract
YDA Group from Turkey - 48% of shares in consortium awarded Vlora Airport concession contract
2A Group from Kosovo - 2% of shares in consortium awarded Vlora Airport concession contract
SEED Consulting from Albania - Report - “Feasibility Study for an airport in the South of Albania”
RPA from Italy - Report - “Feasibility Study for an airport in the South of Albania”
Relevant government actors:Government of Albania
Civil Aviation Authority
Ministry of Infrastructure
Ministry of Investments and Energy
Contracting Authority
European Commission
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:PPNEA (Protection and Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania) -
Birds of Albania -
EuroNatur -
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) -
Build Green Albania -
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Other Health impacts, Accidents
Other Health impactsIllnesses caused by pollutants emitted by aircraft
Risk of bird strikes - collisions with aircraft
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of landscape/sense of place, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Under negotiation
Proposal and development of alternatives:Protection and Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania (PPNEA) maintain that Vjose-Narta is a promising location for eco and agro-tourism and has established an entrepreneurial model in the area, setting an example that locals might follow. PPNEA, EuroNatur and partner organizations have sustained a lengthy campaign to enhance protection of Vjosa River and its delta through establishment of the first wild river national park in Europe.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Vlora Airport and associated development projects have received parliamentary approval in spite of lack of consultation and opposition from many environmental organizations. The site is in the Vjosa-Narta Protected Landscape, which EJO's argue conflicts with national laws and international biodiversity protection conventions ratified by Albania. The revenue guarantee for the winner of the concession contract for the airport places the financial risks of the project on citizens.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

“Feasibility Study for an airport in the South of Albania”, Republic of Albania – Civil Aviation Authority, rpa, Seed Consulting
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[1] New international airport to be constructed in Narta Lagoon ++ Albanian parliament approved the project yesterday ++ EuroNatur and its partners call for an earnest environmental impact assessment, EuroNatur, 02/02/2018
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[2] German environmentalists slam Albania’s new airport project in protected area, Tirana Times, 05/02/2018
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[3] PPNEA Raises Concern Over Airport in Vjosa-Narta, Invest in Albania, 26/01/2021
[click to view]

[4] 36 Environmental Organizations Ask Albanian Government to Drop Construction of Vlora Airport, Exit News, 01/02/2021
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[6] Vlora Airport Construction: Main Environmental Impacts and Cost-Benefit Analysis, Build Green Groups NGO, 12/02/2021
[click to view]

[7] Bird paradise in Albania threatened by construction of an airport, EuroNatur, 06/05/2021
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[8] Exit Explains: The Consortium Behind the Vlora Airport Concession, Exit News, 06/03/2021
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[9] EUR 138 Million of Taxpayers Money at Stake Over Vlora Airport Success, Exit News, 07/03/2021
[click to view]

[10] Vlora Airport, Centre for Aviation (CAPA)
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[11] Albania Reopens Vlora Airport Bidding Process, Invest in Albania, 20/12/2020
[click to view]

[12] The concession contract for the construction of the Vlora Airport has officially entered into force, Tirana Times, 14/06/2021
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

The plans to build an international airport dividing a country, Euro News, 12/03/2021
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Plans to build an airport in Albania threatens migrating bird flyways, Euro News, 12/03/2021
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Rose Bridger, Stay Grounded mapping, email: [email protected]
Last update13/09/2021
Conflict ID:5619
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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