© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Two men walk past AENA’s offices at Barcelona’s airport February 10, 2015. REUTERS/Albert Gea

MADRID (Reuters) – Spanish airport operator Aena plans to launch a tender for a new Madrid cargo hub in the fourth quarter of 2021, it said on Wednesday, as it looks to capitalise on a coronavirus-induced boom in freight logistics.

The tender, for the rights to use an area of 32 hectares close to Madrid’s Barajas airport, is part of Aena’s and flag carrier Iberia’s plan to raise the profile of the airport and transform it into a larger international hub.

Aena will seek one or more investors for the wider development project, which will include building offices and hotels close to Europe’s fourth-largest airport.

“We open our hand to Aena’s partnership with companies which are experts in airport cities,” Aena president Maurici Lucena told reporters during a digital presentation.

The company expects to announce its investment partner for the Madrid cargo hub in 2022.

As minority partner, Aena will contribute the rights to use the land for the next 75 years. Some 28 hectares of the plot will be used for the logistics hub, while the remaining four will be reserved for green spaces.

Aena has forecast that air travel will make a full recovery from the pandemic’s impact by 2025.

Lucena said Aena also plans to launch tenders for other airports in Spain, such as Barcelona’s El Prat.

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