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Kerch authorities to auction municipal airport

SIMFEROPOL (Ukraine), March 2 (RIA Novosti) - The town council of Kerch, in Ukraine's Black Sea autonomy of Crimea, announced Friday an auction to sell the municipal airport.

It is the second such announcement made by the local government since the Ukrainian Cabinet refused to finance the bankrupt enterprise in 2001 and passed control over the airport to municipal authorities.

"The airport will be sold as an integral complex of land property and existing facilities," the local authorities said in a statement.

"The starting price is about 12 million grivna ($2.4 million)," the document said. "Key offer conditions include the obligation to continue operating the airport in its current capacity, and to increase the number of employees by at least 30 people."

The successful buyer will also have to take over the obligation to pay off all current debts, and to invest at least 50 million grivna ($9.9 million) over the next three years to reconstruct the airport and the adjacent municipal infrastructure.

The airport occupies 320 hectares on the outskirts of Kerch and currently employs 80 people.

The city authorities attempted to sell the facility in 2005, but a proposed deal with an U.S.-Canadian company fell through because of numerous violations in formal bidding procedures.

"This time all [auction] documentation has been prepared in compliance with existing legislation," Mayor Oleg Osadchiy said. "I think we will sell it [the airport] sometime this year, maybe in April."

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