Greek court greenlights privatization of 14 regional airports

Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court has greenlighted the privatization of 14 regional airports, Greek national news agency AMNA reported on Wednesday.

The court rejected six requests submitted by trade unions who opposed the sale to a consortium led by German group Fraport.

Under the deal signed with Greece’s privatization fund HRADF in December 2015, Fraport will have the management of the airports over the next four decades, after paying the Greek state 1.3 billion euros (1.42 billion U.S. dollars).

The Federation of Greek Civil Aviation Workers (OSYPA), which protested the privatization, claim the move will lead to dismissals of employees and higher airport charges. It said it would appeal to the European Commission against the concession deal. The unionists argued that the agreement violates European competition rules in addition to public interest.

However, judicial sources told local daily “Vima” (Tribune) that any such bid to annul the deal will have a negative outcome and the path to the completion of the privatization is now open.

Addressing an Athens forum last week, HRADF head Stergios Pitsiorlas assured the final technical details will be tackled in coming weeks so that by March 2017 the airports’ management will be transferred to Fraport.

Greece aims to raise some 3 billion euros from its privatization program this year and 15 billion euros within the next five years as part of efforts to overcome the seven year debt crisis and return to sustainable growth.

The privatization program was launched in 2010 under the first bailout to keep the country afloat, but has been hit by several delays and initial goals to raise 50 billion euros, as well as timetables, which have been revised many times.

Fraport, which won an international tender in 2014,is committed to invest at least 330 million euros by 2020 to upgrade facilities, improve the quality of services and increase passenger numbers in the airports which include popular tourist destinations across Greece.