The bill for the support of Greek airports is now on its way to Parliament’s plenary for voting; it will allow the state to sort out the issue of compensation to Fraport – the consortium operating 14 regional airports – and to support Athens International Airport due to the restrictions the state imposed on air travel due to the pandemic.
The two regulations provide for exemption from payment of dues to the state and the disbursement of a total of 300 million euros to the two companies that manage the main gateways to the country through concession contracts.
Official data show that passenger traffic at AIA declined by 68.4% last year to just 8.07 million passengers, against 25.57 million in 2019. The 14 airports that the Fraport Greece consortium manages saw passenger traffic drop 71.4% last year to 8.6 million passengers, from 30.15 million in 2019.
The compensation to Fraport Greece will amount to €177 million and concern losses suffered in 2020. That money will not be paid to the company but will instead offset some of the consortium’s annual fees and contract obligations to the state; it will also depend on passenger traffic.
The annual fee Fraport Greece pays to Greece will not be paid for the years 2019, 2020 and 2021, while the floating section of the dues that depends on passenger numbers will be partly offset. This is the model deemed to be the most beneficial for the state, reaching a settlement to that effect and avoiding arbitration.
The second part of the bill concerns financial support to AIA based on the provisions of European law. The support of €130 million will concern the financial year 2020, and will be disbursed once approved by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Competition (DGComp). The bill has already been submitted to Brussels and its approval is highly likely.
In fact the state will pay AIA €51.57 million, with the other €78.42 million offsetting the annual fee the Athens Airport operating company has to pay Greece for the years 2020, 2021 and 2022.
Airports have been included in the domains to have suffered a major blow from the pandemic, so they are exempt from EU rules against state subsidies.