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Greece in Talks with Chinese for Kasteli Airport Project

The new airport is scheduled to replace the existing Heraklion Airport “Nikos Kazantzakis.” Photo © heraklionairport.net

The new airport is scheduled to replace the existing Heraklion Airport “Nikos Kazantzakis.” Photo © heraklionairport.net

Kasteli airport, to be constructed on the island of Crete, will be on the agenda of talks in the coming days between Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis and a delegation from China’s State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC), Greek daily To Vima, reports.

Budgeted at 900 million euros, the project, which has already been postponed several times, is set to be operational in five years and to become the second largest airport after the Eleftherios Venizelos in Athens, replacing in the meantime, Crete’s obsolete Heraklion Airport.

According to To Vima, representatives from CSCEC, the third largest construction firm in the world, will meet with Mr Stathakis in order to confirm their interest and discuss the viability of the project following relevant talks with Deputy Prime Minister Yannis Dragasakis on his recent visit to Beijing.

The Chinese view the airport as an opportunity to expand their presence in Europe after their Piraeus investment. Others eyeing the project include France’s Vinci, Greek groups Gek-Terna, J&P Avax, Aktor, and Metka. Given the magnitude of the project, to be co-financed by the government and the European Investment Bank (EIB), Greek firms are expected to enter partnerships with international construction companies.

The government, meanwhile, is planning to renegotiate the terms of the concession contract with consortium Fraport-Slentel for the construction and management of 14 regional airports. Among issues to be renegotiated is the participation of the Greek state and the shortening of the concession period.

At the same time, bidders for a 55 percent stake in Athens’ Eleftherios Venizelos Airport, Friedmann Pacific Asset Management (FPAM) and Shenzen Airport, have withdrawn their bids.

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