Airport News

Airport News

Chinese, French, German and Spanish firms are vying to build an EUR€800 million (USD$1 billion) airport on the island of Crete, one of a number of projects planned by Greece as it recovers from recession.

Athens re-launched the tender for Kastelli airport in May, after plans to build the terminal were shelved at the peak of its debt crisis in 2011. The country hopes Kastelli and planned road projects will help kick-start its economy.

The airport is expected to be completed by 2019 and would handle about 7 million passengers a year, mostly tourists.

Kastelli will become Greece's second-biggest airport after Athens in terms of foreign traffic. It will replace Crete's outdated Heraklion airport, which is bursting under the strain of handling millions of tourists a year.

"It's a big deal, one of the biggest public investments in the country after the crisis," Infrastructure Minister Michalis Chrisochoidis said.

The winning firm will have a 35-year concession on the airport. Companies are expected to submit their bids on November 11, but it is unclear when a winner will be announced.

Chrisochoidis said the economy had improved since April, when in a sign of growing confidence in the country, investors bought EUR€3 billion of Greek government bonds, ending Greece's four-year exile from bond markets.

"The country has turned the page because it escaped default and has achieved a primary budget surplus," he said.

He did not name the firms expected to bid for the project.

One of the possible bidders for Kastelli is China's State Construction Engineering Corporation, according to Greek media. Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang will visit Athens later this week to discuss possible investment projects.