ATHENS - A private company taking over 14 Greek regional airports is going to levy taxes on children aged 2-5 for the first time, tacking it onto the cost of tickets.
Also, passengers flying from Greek airports to countries outside the Schengen zone will pay the same airport levy as those flying within the bloc from next month.
The ruling Radical Left SYRIZA of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who vowed to halt privatizations, instead is accelerating them on orders of international lenders.
Once Fraport Greece, a consortium, has taken delivery of the 14 regional airports it has been awarded the rights to operate for the next 40 years next month, the single Airport Modernization and Development Levy will start applying to departures from all airports to all destinations at a flat rate of 12 euros per passenger, Kathimerini said.
This will apply until November 1, 2024, when the levy will drop to 3 euros ($3.22) per departing passenger. To date, the levy has been imposed on all passengers over five years old.
However, the rate has varied depending on the final destination, as those traveling to Schengen countries pay 12 euros ($12.88) while those going to third countries pay 22 euros, about $23.62.
A tabled amendment to a Finance Ministry bill also dictates the levy also be imposed on child passengers from the age of 2. All transit and transfer passengers are exempt.
The imposition of the levy has been pending since November 1, 2014, when the application of the old one was supposed to expire. However, its adjustment was delayed as it was associated with the completion of the concession process of the 14 regional airports.
The airports are expected to be turned over around Easter when a one-time 1.23 billion euro ($1.32 billion) payment is also due but will come as the travel season begins to pick up, making the transition more difficult.
When it happens, the turnover will be overnight, switching from the state to the consortium in terminals at Thessaloniki, Aktio and Kavala on the Greek mainland and 11 island airports – Hania, Corfu, Cephalonia, Cos, Myconos, Rhodes, Samos, Santorini, Skiathos and Zakynthos.
Fraportsaids it expects the process to be seamless in terms of both security and efficiency, as it has been practicing the handovers at its headquarters in Kalogreza, north of Athens, for months.