AIA con­tract ex­ten­sion to get gov­ern­ment ap­proval to­day

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY YAN­NIS PALAIOLOGOS

Af­ter a de­lay of a month, to­day is ex­pected to bring po­lit­i­cal ap­proval of the ex­ten­sion of the Athens In­ter­na­tional Air­port (AIA) con­ces­sion con­tract, as fol­low­ing re­peated ef­forts, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Eu­clid Tsakalo­tos is to meet with In­fra­struc­ture Min­is­ter Chris­tos Spirtzis.

The de­lay in the ap­proval of the deal, com­pleted since endDe­cem­ber, had gen­er­ated con­cerns that fresh ob­sta­cles might be raised to block the process, as was the case a year ear­lier with the de­lay­ing tac­tics adopted by then head of the AIA board Panayi­o­tis Roume­li­o­tis. Ne­go­ti­a­tions on the tech­ni­cal agree­ment between the AIA and state sell-off fund TAIPED have lasted for more than a year.

“The ap­proval is un­likely to come up against any prob­lems,” a source told Kathimerini, which also un­der­stands that among the rea­sons for the de­lay – be­sides the bailout re­view that is tak­ing up most of Tsakalo­tos’s time and the hol­i­day sea­son – was an at­tempt by cer­tain lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in east­ern At­tica to seek ben­e­fits from the con­tract ex­ten­sion. Lo­cal author­ity rep­re­sen­ta­tives had sent a let­ter to the Fi­nance Min­istry but their re­quests were re­jected.

Sources from the gov­ern­ment, as well as from the air­port’s board and its con­sul­tants, speak of an agree­ment that will be par­tic­u­larly ben­e­fi­cial to the Greek state. They specif­i­cally cite the price, which is es­ti­mated to come to at least 1.2 bil­lion eu­ros and of which 400 mil­lion will go to pub­lic cof­fers this year, a re­duc­tion to land­ing fees and the abo­li­tion of the right of first re­fusal re­served to date by the main share­holder, the Cana­dian state pen­sion fund’s PSP In­vest­ments.

The ex­ist­ing con­tract ex­pires in 2026, with the ex­ten­sion tak­ing its ex­piry to 2046. The com­ple­tion of this process will also open the way for talks about the sale of a 30-per­cent stake in the air­port cur­rently con­trolled by TAIPED. The of­fi­cial start to the sale process for that stake must also await the rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the con­tract ex­ten­sion by Par­lia­ment.

This con­tract and the con­ces­sion of 14 re­gional air­ports to Fra­port, worth 1.23 bil­lion eu­ros, point to Greece’s air­ports be­ing a key part of the coun­try’s pri­va­ti­za­tion pro­gram.

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Eu­clid Tsakalo­tos (right) will host a meet­ing with In­fra­struc­ture Min­is­ter Chris­tos Spirtzis (left) to rat­ify the AIA deal.

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