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Φωτο: Konstantinos Tsakalidis / SOOC

Fraport looks to tighten grip in Greece, weighs up smaller airports

The government and the Superfund are proceeding with the processes of utilizing the smaller airports as some of them have very high upgrade needs.

Germany’s Fraport, which manages the country's 14 largest regional airports, is closely looking at the privatization of Greece’s 23 smaller airports. The country’s Superfund gave yesterday the signal for the start of the utilization procedures for some of the smaller airports.

It started the process of picking a consultant for the concession of the Kalamata airport in which the Konstantopoulos group, that controls the neighboring tourist complex Costa Navarino, has shown interest.

The group is expected to look for an international partner with experience in airport management in order to claim the concession contract in Kalamata., southern Greece.

The concession model of the 23 smaller airports seems to be flexible. It looks to include either an autonomous concession (as in the case of Kalamata), or a concession with grouping, or simple management contracts through Public-Private Partnership (PPP). During the previous SYRIZA-ANEL government, a consultant had been hired who had grouped the 23 airports according to their passenger traffic. The first group, with an annual traffic of over 100,000 passengers, included the airports in Karpathos, Chios, Kalamata, Alexandroupoli and Araxos.

The government and the Superfund are proceeding with the processes of utilizing the smaller airports as some of them have very high upgrade needs. Paros Airport, for example, was upgraded in 2016. But a tender of around 50 million euros is already being prepared to build a new 8,400-square-meter passenger terminal and extend the runway length by 400 meters, to expand the aircraft parking floor. and develop vehicle parking and fuel facilities.

The same applies for other airports as the majority of tourists who visit our country (almost two in three) arrive by plane. At least this is what 2019 data shows, prior to the pandemic.

The list of 23 airports includes some located on tourist islands such as Paros, Milos and Naxos. The same list includes airports that need to be upgraded to meet the regulations of international aviation organizations.

The list includes airports in Alexandroupoli, Ioannina, Araxos, Kalamata, Astypalea, Kalymnos, Ikaria, Karpathos, Kasos, Kastelorizo, Kastoria, Kythira, Leros, Milos, Paros, Skyros, Chios, Syros, Ko Anzialos, Nea Anzialos, and Lemnos. Requests for the improvement of passenger airports (Ioannina, Chios, Naxos, Kalamata, Kasos, Kastoria, Kozani & Paros) have been submitted and are already being considered for several. Finally, some airports (Kalamata, Araxos, Nea Anchialos, Skyros and Chania) also have a military operation with activities that limit the capacity of airports for civil aviation.

Advisers to the previous government had estimated that the investment interest is zero for the airports in Leros, Sitia, Nea Anchialos, Kalymnos, Skyros, Syros, Astypalea, Kastelorizo, Kastoria, Kasos and Kozani. On the other hand, airports in Kalamata, Alexandroupoli, Ioannina, Paros, Milos, Naxos, Chios, and Lemnos were considered to be the most attractive.

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