Aegean Air Invests in Hellenikon Project

FILE - Aegean airlines air hostesses take selfies after a news conference in Athens, Wednesday, March 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS – With Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis promising the long-stalled 8 billion-euro ($8.79 billion) development of the abandoned Hellenikon International Airport site on Athens’ coast would begin by the end of the year, Aegean Air said it was also investing in the project.

The airline company is becoming a strategic partner with a 20-million-euro ($21.97 million) investment in Lamda Development’s share capital and an agreement to promote the project at the site of Athens’ former international airport, said Kathimerini.

Aegean will acquire Lamda shares amounting to 1.66 percent of its share capital in the upcoming increase as the lead developer said it wanted to buy out its partners, China’s Fosun and Abu Dhabi’s Eagle Hills. On its flights, Aegean will give passengers promotional material showing the features, new services, and experiences at the development, if it happens.

“Our objective is to share the project with Aegean passengers – the majority of whom come from cities abroad – as much as possible, and through that to support its successful evolution,” Greece’s leading carrier said in a statement.

“Therefore Aegean is associating its name with the most emblematic development project in the country, the success of which constitutes a national target, especially for the growth of tourism,” it added.

Lamda Chief Executive Odisseas Athanasiou said the deal is “the beginning of a broader and very important cooperation with Aegean, a leading force in air transport in Greece, that will turn it into Elliniko’s official air carrier.”

In September, some 18 years after it closed, the plan to transform the abandoned Hellenikon International Airport on Athens coast into a high-end use of commercial space, offices, a casino, marina park and playland got closer to beginning when Greece’s highest administrative court removed the last obstacle.

The court ruled as legal the procedures that have been followed so far concerning feasibility studies and environmental issues said Kathimerini, as the plan will also include additional environmental studies when construction begins.

The project had been essentially blocked under the 4-1/2 year reign of the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA that had elements who didn’t want foreign companies with new Mitsotakis moving swiftly to meet his promise to get it going.

He said he wants to lure more foreign investors to speed a slow recovery from a 9 1/2-year economic and austerity crisis and that the Hellenikon project would be a linchpin. It would be the third end of the so-called Athens Riviera.

The first is the planned 800-million euro ($883.41 million) renovation of the port of Piraeus by the Chinese company COSCO which operates it, that was also stymied by SYRIZA. In between is the $861 million Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center on the coast right there.