Greece plans to privatize 23 regional airports

The airport of Kalamata named after Vasilis Constantakopoulos in Greece is expected to serve more tourists after the pandemic. However, the equipment at the airport operated by the State Civil Aviation Administration YPA is rather outdated.

Prior to the outbreak of the corona pandemic in 2019, the airport in Kalamata, a port in the southwest of the Peloponnese peninsula, was still ranked first among Greece’s 38 commercial airports with 336,000 passengers per year.

According to a study by the Greek Ministry of Transport, to be ready for the tourism boom that Greece expects after the end of the pandemic, the airport will need to spend between 60 and 80 million euros to expand the terminal and renovate the runway, walkways and apron.

The money will come from a private investor. Kalamata is one of 23 regional airports that the state wants to transfer to private operators. In recent years, Greece has had a positive experience with the privatization of regional airports.

In 2017, the government granted a concession for the construction of 14 regional airports to the Fraport group of airports. The German company will operate the airports for 40 years. Fraport’s entry into the Greek market cost € 1.24 billion and has invested € 440 million over the past four years in the construction of new terminals and runways, as well as in the renovation of existing facilities.

In February 2021, three months ahead of schedule, Fraport completed the airport modernization. This means Greece will have a modern airport infrastructure just in time for the post-pandemic era, from Thessaloniki in the north to the popular tourist islands such as Corfu, Mykonos, Santorini and Rhodes, and Chania in Crete in the south. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called the refurbished air harbors “bridges to the summer season with more freedom” at the handover ceremony of the new facility in Thessaloniki.

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Fraport may expand its Greek portfolio with additional concessions. Kalamata is at the top of the privatization list. An invitation to tender is expected in the next few weeks.

This airport is not only the largest of the public airports, but also has particularly good growth prospects. It is related to the person whose name he bears. Greek tycoon Vasilis Constantakopoulos, who died in 2011, left to his three sons not only the Nasdaq-listed shipping company Costamare, with the third largest private container shipping fleet in the world, but also the five-star golf and beach resort Costa Navarino in Greece.

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The family of the “king of containers” has so far invested about 1.2 billion euros in a hotel and entertainment complex on the coast of Messinia, which opened in 2010. This made the region, previously known primarily for the Kalamata olives, one of the fastest growing tourism centers in Greece.

The tourist boom is also reflected in the number of passengers at Kalamata Airport. Between 2010 and 2019, their number quadrupled. The real estate and hotel company Temes S.A., controlled by the Constantacopoulos family, is considered a possible contender for the airport concession, which is of particular importance for the further development of the Costa Navarino resort.

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