Canada Association of Tourism Employees

Greece Advantages from the Privatization of Regional Airports

The “Kalamata Airport Captain Vassilis Constantakopoulos” in Greece is said to be handling more tourists after the pandemic. However, the handling facilities at the airport, which is operated by the state civil aviation authority YPA, are rather modest.

Before the corona pandemic began in 2019, the airport in the city of Kalamata, a port on the southwestern Peloponnese peninsula, with 336,000 passengers was still in the middle of the 38 commercial airports in Greece.

To be prepared for the travel boom Greece awaits after the end of the pandemic, The airport would have to spend 60 to 80 million euros on expanding the terminal and renovating the runway, taxiways and apron, according to a study by the Greek Ministry of Transport.

The money will come from a private investor. Kalamata is one of 23 regional airports that the state intends to hand over to private operators. Greece has had good experiences with airport privatizations in recent years.

In 2017, the state awarded concessions for 14 regional airports to the airport group Fraport. The Germans will operate the airports for 40 years. Fraport’s entry into Greece cost 1.24 billion euros and over the past four years has invested 440 million euros in the construction of new terminals and runways as well as the renovation of existing facilities.

In February 2021, Fraport completed the modernization of the airports three months ahead of schedule. In time for the start of the post-pandemic era, Greece now has an ultra-modern airport infrastructure from Thessaloniki in the north to popular islands such as Corfu, Mykonos, Santorini and Rhodes as well as Chania on Crete in the south. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called the new airports “bridges to a summer of greater freedom” at the handover ceremony in Thessaloniki.

With the upcoming award of further airport concessions, Fraport could round off its Greek portfolio. At the top of the privatization list is Kalamata. The announcement is expected in the next few weeks.

The airport is not only the largest of the state-operated airports, it also has particularly good prospects for growth. This is thanks to the man whose name it bears. The Greek tycoon Vassilis Constantakopoulos, who died in 2011, left his three sons with the Nasdaq-listed shipping company Costamare, not only the third largest private container fleet in the world, but also the five-star golf and beach resort Costa Navarino in Greece.

The family of the “container king” has so far invested around 1.2 billion euros in the hotel and villa complex opened in 2010 on the Messinian coast. This makes the region, which until then was mainly known for its Kalamata olives, one of the fastest growing holiday centers in Greece.

The tourism boom is also reflected in the number of passengers at Kalamata Airport. They quadrupled between 2010 and 2019. The real estate and hotel operator Temes SA, which is controlled by the Constantakopoulos family and is of particular importance for the further development of the Costa Navarino, is considered to be a possible concessionaire for the airport.

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