Brussels bureaucracy has led to the 20-year contract extension of Athens International Airport grinding to a halt. The completion of the transaction has not only failed to meet the original deadline of end-2017, but it will also require another four or five months.
This means that besides the payment of 251 million euros to state privatizations fund TAIPED and another 117 million to the Finance Ministry in value-added tax, the start of the process for the sale of a further 30 percent of shares in AIA has also been delayed.
That procedure was scheduled to begin in March, but this is no longer seen as possible, given that the 20-year extension contract has been stalled by the European Union’s competition authorities. The Commission’s Directorate General for Competition (DGComp) is constantly asking for additional information regarding the new contract, focusing mainly on the legal basis on which the concession of the airport was extended by 20 years without a tender but through a direct concession. In practice Brussels is examining whether AIA has received a state subsidy.
Sources familiar with the process note that the Greek authorities have underestimated the inspection by the Commission.