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Crete to Get New Airport: Works at Kastelli Begin

An impression of the Kastelli Airport. Photo Source: GMR Airports Limited

The island of Crete is finally getting a new international airport after Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis laid the foundation stone at Kastelli, on Saturday.

“This airport will be the best in the country. End of story. The most modern, the most environmentally friendly, one that will incorporate the latest technologies,” Mitsotakis said during a special ceremony.

Ariadne Airport Group – a joint venture between Greek firm GEK Terna and India’s GMR Airports Limited (GAL) – was awarded the concession contract last year. Meanwhile, earlier this year, the European Investment Bank (EIB) pledged its support of the project with a 28-year, 180-million-euro loan to Greece.

Impression of Kastelli airport.

Under the concession agreement, Ariadne Airport Group is bound to complete the project within 54 months plus six months for trials – 60 months in total. The 35-year deal foresees six term deadlines from the starting date. The concessionaire is also required within that time to secure licensing and certification requirements.

Budgeted at 850 million euros, the highly anticipated transport infrastructure project is expected to create 2,000 jobs during the construction period and some 7,500 direct employment positions once completed. An additional 37,000 indirect jobs are projected at opening up in the areas of tourism and trade.

The Kastelli Airport, set to replace the current Nikos Kazantzakis airport in  Heraklion, and is expected to become Greece’s second biggest, handling more than eight million passengers per year.

The future Kastelli airport is expected to replace the current Nikos Kazantzakis airport in Heraklion.
Nikos Kazantzakis airport, Heraklion.

Mitsotakis referred to the importance of the new airport, which is located “in the heart of the Eastern Mediterranean” and stressed its potential to become a regional hub due to its proximity – in  less than four hours to the capitals of Western Europe, and from large cities in the Middle East and North Africa, “transforming Crete into a tourism destination and hub all year round”.

Works to begin in the upcoming period include a 3.2km runway for commercial aircraft including Airbus A380 jet airliners, a 23-meter parallel taxiway with a provision for the construction of a second taxiway to facilitate independent operation, eight junction lanes; two junction lanes linked with the Military Airport runway; airside facilities including a cargo terminal building and an apron area capable of initially housing 27 aircraft; a five-level 72,000m2 main terminal building with 13,000m2 of commercial use areas and approximately 1,000m2 of permanent showroom space; 11 airport use spaces / buildings for airport operations requirements, including control tower, fire brigade, police, maintenance, ground installation, power center, water tanks, biological cleaning system, hydraulic installation, waste storage system; vehicle parking spaces; and road networks.

At the same time, due to the airport, a number of other key infrastructure projects, including the completion of the so-called north road axis and peripheral roadway networks as well as water and sanitation works are in the pipeline.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis during his recent visit to Heraklion, Crete. Photo Source: @Prime Minister GR

“The new Kasteli Airport “will create 7,000 jobs… and marks the first major Indian investment in Greece of the new era… a project that comes on the back of our partnership with Fraport, which upgraded 14 regional airports… and we’re not stopping here. An additional 23 airports are next in line, with relevant announcements in the upcoming period,” said Mitsotakis, who was accompanied by Infrastructure Minister Kostas Karamanlis.

It should be noted that under the concession agreement, Ariadne Airport Group is required to hand over 2 percent of the proceeds, 1 percent of which will go to the Minoa Pediada Municipality and 1 percent to support the development of Heraklion regional unit organizations and other public benefit projects and actions.

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About the Author
Chicago-born and raised, Maria Paravantes has over two decades of journalistic experience covering tourism and travel, gastronomy, arts, music and culture, economy and finance, politics, health and social issues for international press and media. She has worked for Reuters, The Telegraph, Huffington Post, Billboard Magazine, Time Out Athens, the Athens News, Odyssey Magazine and, among others. She has also served as Special Advisor to Greece’s minister of Foreign Affairs, and to the mayor of Athens on international press and media issues. Maria is currently a reporter, content and features writer for GTP Headlines.

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