Chinese confirm interest in Athens airport

By Alexandra Kassimi

The Chinese consortium comprising Friedmann Pacific Asset Management (FPAM) and Shenzhen Airport on Thursday announced it intends to acquire the majority stake in and management of Athens International Airport, adding that AIA can become a source of considerable investment and growth for Greece.

With state sell-off fund TAIPED yet to confirm the size of the stake to be put up for sale, FPAM managing director Eric Cheng said that everything remains open at the moment, although it is clear that the larger the stake and the longer the concession period for the airport’s operation, the more satisfied the Chinese consortium will be.

“We have been negotiating with the Greek side for three years and our investment interest in AIA is well known. The larger our holding in the airport, the more scope we will have for investments in it,” Cheng stated.

Questioned about his keen interest in Athens Airport, Cheng explained that his group wishes to create a gateway to Europe from Asia, and AIA appears to be the only airport that has significant scope for growth. He said the majority of other European terminals have exceeded their capacity and now have limited or no margin for development.

On the TAIPED letter that asked for clarifications concerning the publication of the consortium’s interest before the start of the tender, Cheng said that the group’s interest is not premature as all policy programs drafted by the country’s creditors provide for the country’s biggest airport to enter a tender process.

He also revealed that the consortium has held contacts with PFP, the Canadian company that currently manages the airport.