Greece seeking bidders for bln-dollar airport on Crete

Chinese, French, German and Spanish firms are vying to build an 800-million-euro airport on the island of Crete, one of a number of projects planned by Greece as it recovers from a recession, the infrastructure minister said.

Investment in new airports, highways and ports are key to helping Greece’s ailing economy as it slowly emerges from a six-year economic slump.

Crete is considered a prime spot because of its strategic location wedged between Europe, Asia and Africa.

Athens relaunched the tender for the Kastelli airport in May, after plans to build the terminal were shelved at the peak of its debt crisis in 2011.

The country hopes Kastelli and planned road projects will help kick-start its economy.

The airport is expected to be completed by 2019 and would handle about 7 million passengers a year, mostly tourists.

Kastelli will become Greece’s second-biggest airport after Athens in terms of foreign traffic.

It will replace Crete’s outdated Iraklio Airport, which is bursting under the strain of handling millions of tourists a year.

“It’s a big deal, one of the biggest public investments in the country after the crisis,” Infrastructure Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis said in an interview on Wednesday.

The winning firm will have a 35-year concession on the airport.

Companies are expected to submit their bids on November 11.