Greece has pushed backed the deadline for binding bids to build and operate a new airport on the island of Crete by about two months to May 6 to give investors more time to prepare offers, an infrastructure ministry official said on Thursday.
The government, which signed up to a third international bailout last summer and is craving investments to help return its ailing economy to growth, had set a Feb. 23 deadline.
Greece is one of Europe's top tourist destinations and Kasteli, a 850-million-euro ($947 million) build and operate project, will become its fourth-biggest airport in terms of traffic, replacing Crete's outdated Heraklion airport, which is struggling to handle nearly 2.6 million tourists a year.
"There has been a lot of interest by investors who have asked for an extension in the consultations to have more data available and get better-prepared for their final bids," the official told Reuters, declining to be named.
France's Vinci jointly with Greece's Ellaktor, and Spain's ACS with GEK-Terna, were expected to bid, two officials from the Greek companies told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
China State Construction Engineering in a joint venture with Zurich Airport are also interested in the project, according to the ministerial decision which extended the deadline.
Greece had made several fruitless attempts to build the facility since 2010 but its debt crisis scared investors away.