German-Greek Fraport consortium targets mid March for assumption of 14 regional airports

A mid March 2017 date is the latest given for completion of the transfer of 14 regional airports around Greece to the German-Greek consortium Fraport-Slentel, as a bevy of mostly technical issues need to be resolved in the meantime.

The original deadline to finalize one of Greece’s biggest privatizations was late 2016, with the actual handover set for late January 2017.

Nevertheless, sources told “Naftemporiki” that the delay is unrelated to any glitches in obtaining financing, nor is it related to whatever “hiccups” between the two sides: the Greek state, which owns and still operates the facilities, and the Fraport-led concessionaire. The same sources, however, did not preclude the possible of some form of “co-management” of the 14 airports by Fraport and the state-run Civil Aviation Authority (YPA) until November 2017 — a practice deemed as more-or-less standard during a management transition at a commercial airport.

The looser management scheme in the first few months of the consortium’s assumption of management at the 14 airports — following its successful bid in an international tender — is one of the reasons cited for avoiding the announcement of a fixed date for the handover.

At least two meetings, in fact, were held last week at the prime minister’s official office (Maximos Mansion) on the specific concession, and the pending assumption of management by Fraport Slentel, with the reported goal being to iron out whatever obstacles.

One pending agreement needs to cite a new date for the handover of the 14 airports, namely, facilities in Thessaloniki, Corfu, Hania (Chania), Cephallonia, Zakynthos, Aktio (Preveza), Kavala, Rhodes, Kos, Samos, Mytilene (Lesvos), Mykonos, Santorini and Skiathos.

Consortium officials met with Minister of State Alekos Flambouraris at the Maximos Mansion last week, with sources saying that the civil aviation authority will continue to offer certain services to Fraport-Slentel — technical support by electricians and carpenters, for instance — until November. Along those lines, a MoC would be the next step in clearly delineating this cooperation.

On their part, CAA personnel at the currently state-run airports are awaiting a presidential decree that will unveil new organizational charts for the specific facilities, following the ratification of relevant legislation.

On its part, the ambitious German multinational appears ready to institute immediate upgrades plan at the 14 Greek airports – many of whom service the country’s pre-eminent tourism destinations — and even before structural improvements are set to commence in October or November 2017.

Airport commons areas leased to private vendors are just one example, with Fraport-Slentel eyeing bigger duty-free zones, such as one at the oft-disparaged Mykonos airport on the iconic holiday isle.

Nevertheless, a comprehensive legal and technical inspection — including certificates, aviation safety and conditions etc. — of all 14 airports by the consortium’s services must first be finalized before the last signatures are placed on the concession contract.


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