Transport Minister Christos Spirtzis finally approved the extension of the Athens International Airport concession contract late on Friday, after a tense week during which he tried to introduce a law amendment imposing a levy on transit flight passengers in favor of the Civil Aviation Authority.
That amendment, which would substantially alter the contract between AIA and state sell-off fund TAIPED, was eventually scrapped thanks to the reaction by the Finance Ministry (which has also signed the contract extension) and the Prime Minister’s Office. They believe stalling on such issues weakens the government in its negotiations.
Still, the drama continued, as Spirtzis made another attempt to obstruct the process in spite of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s desire to have the extension signed before this Monday’s Eurogroup, insisting on a special clause that would concern the aircraft hangars. Eventually, following Tsipras’s intervention, Spirtzis was convinced to back down and sign the contract extension, agreeing to negotiate the hangar clause separately.
The technical negotiations on the contract extension lasted for more than a year and were completed in December, but obstacles kept cropping up, delaying the signing.