ATHENS – Unless it’s also blocked by the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA, which is both seeking investors while trying to stop them, a new airport will be built on the popular island of Crete by a Greek-Indian consortium.
Ariadne Airport Group, a joint venture between India’s GMR Airports and Greek contractor GEK Terna, was awarded the contract for the 850-million-euros ($962.71 million) Kasteli airport project last year, Reuters reported on the award.
But it still needs clearance from Parliament and competition authorities before construction begins and while Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has reneged on anti-privatization vows and wants foreign businesses, elements in his party don’t.
They have succeeded in blocking a $580 million renovation of the port of Piraeus by the Chinese company Cosco, a gold mine in northern Greece, a tourism project on Corfu and are seeking to keep out foreign companies that Tsipras said are needed to push a recovery.
Since 2010, Greece has made several attempts to build the new airport at Kasteli to replace Heraklion airport, Greece’s second-largest in terms of traffic but which can’t handle the more than 6.7 million passengers it receives, mostly tourists, during a record run of seasons bringing a financial boom.
The country relies on tourist spending, which brings in as much as 18 percent of the Gross Domestic Product of 175.11 billion euros ($200.3 billion) and soared again in 2018 with more than 32 million visitors from 2017.
That was a jump of some nine million in only four years with Greece benefiting from celebrities flocking to the country in the summer and big spenders dropping thousands of euros a night at nightclubs on the island of Mykonos and the island of Santorini so popular that cruise ship visits are being regulated, and with Crete a favored destination.