It is a well-known fact: Infrastructure projects are long to mature in Greece. Still, it is always a pleasant thing that eventually they do!
Last week was the focal point in time where three important projects entered their final turn. (We won’t use the term “irreversible”, but at the very least they crossed hurdles that make it excessively difficult to stop them). The first one was the development of the abandoned Hellenikon tract of land – air transport has moved over to the Athens/El. Venizelos International Airport at Spata more than 15 years ago – to something tangible, with urban and commercial uses.
The day developers will break ground to start converting the present wasteland of some 7 km2 to something of use may be still some months down the road: but the core of the project – the value-creating Mediterranean Casino Resort – is being put on track with the much-awaited tender just underway.
Almost in the same moment, the 20-year extension of the El. Venizelos Airport concession has been agreed, at a cost of some 1.4 bn euros. Such was the real prerequisite for the Greek State’s 30 % share in the Airport company to be sold off; but of higher importance is the fact that such longer duration of the airport’s life will allow for important extension and modernization work to be undertaken. Without which, the rising traffic to (and through) Athens would soon reach a choking point.
Last but by no means least, the concession agreement to build a greenfield airport in Heraklion at a site situated in Kasteli, a focal point of Crete (along with connecting road infrastructure), has been signed. True enough, this agreement has now to be ratified in Parliament and get the blessing of the European Commission in Brussels. But this infrastructure venture of a total cost of 1.5 bn could well prove the missing link in propelling Crete, a growth-generating mechanism for Greek tourism, to a new age. Greek builder GEK/TERNA, partnering with Indian GMR Airports, has just announced it will raise some 150 mio euros by issuing a bond on the Greek market/ to start work.