AIA ex­ten­sion con­tract inked at long last

Kathimerini English - - Focus - YIAN­NIS PALAIOLOGOS

Trans­port Min­is­ter Chris­tos Spirtzis fi­nally ap­proved the ex­ten­sion of the Athens In­ter­na­tional Air­port con­ces­sion con­tract last night, af­ter a tense week dur­ing which he tried to in­tro­duce a law amend­ment im­pos­ing a levy on tran­sit flight pas­sen­gers in fa­vor of the Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity.

That amend­ment, which would sub­stan­tially al­ter the con­tract be­tween AIA and state sell-off fund TAIPED, was even­tu­ally scrapped thanks to the re­ac­tion by the Fi­nance Min­istry (which has also signed the con­tract ex­ten­sion) and the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice. They be­lieve stalling on such is­sues weak­ens the gov­ern­ment in its ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Still, the drama con­tin­ued, as Spirtzis made another at­tempt to ob­struct the process in spite of Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras’s de­sire to have the ex­ten­sion signed be­fore this Mon­day’s Eurogroup, in­sist­ing on a spe­cial clause that would con­cern the air­craft hangars. Even­tu­ally, fol­low­ing Tsipras’s in­ter­ven­tion, Spirtzis was con­vinced to back down and sign the con­tract ex­ten­sion, agree­ing to ne­go­ti­ate the hangar clause sep­a­rately.

The tech­ni­cal ne­go­ti­a­tions on the con­tract ex­ten­sion lasted for more than a year and were com­pleted in De­cem­ber, but ob­sta­cles kept crop­ping up, de­lay­ing the sign­ing.

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