New Democracy Will Sell 30% Share of Athens’ Airport

FILE - Eleftherios Venizelos airport in Spata, near Athens. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Yiannis Panagopoulos)

ATHENS – Pushing a plan to speed an economic recovery, Greece’s new ruling New Democracy approved the sale of a 30 percent stake owned by the state in the Athens International Airport, with the Canadian firm that operates it looking to become the majority holder.

The Eleftherios Venizelos Athens International Airport (AIA) is managed by the Canada-based PSP Investments fund on a 40-year concession with a 40 percent stake and as the company has been looking to pick up another 30 percent.

The airport is rated one of the best in Europe and the world for its management and is among the most attractive investments for privatizations, which the new government wants to accelerate along with speeding developments blocked by the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA.

The 30 percent shares are held and managed by the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) which is charge with overseeing the sale of state assets that are far behind the schedule set by the country’s international creditors.

The approval for the 30 percent sell-off was was given by members of a top Cabinet-level committee for economic policy, which was chaired by Pime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and comes after a recommendation by Finance Minister Christos Staikouras, said the business newspaper Naftemporiki.

In a brief statement afterwards, Staikouras said the new government is following through on a privatization announced by the previous government of then-premier Alexis Tsipras, but one that was never implemented by him.

“…Our ideological and political position, as we’ve constantly stressed, is to deal with privatizations as an economic growth tool, as long as these are conducted under fully transparent terms, and on the basis of public good, and not just as a means of increasing public revenues,” he added.