AIA flying above revenue targets

Athens International Airport SA said on Tuesday it is outperforming the revenue targets it set before the Sept. 11 attacks sent global aviation into a tailspin, with strong passenger traffic driving sales. The company, 40 percent owned by Germany construction group Hochtief AG, was seeing unexpectedly strong passenger numbers, airport Chief Executive Matthias Mitscherlich told Reuters in an interview. Less than a year after opening, the airport was generating annual revenue between 250 million and 300 million euros, ahead of forecasts, Mitscherlich said. He declined to give precise figures for the airport, which is majority owned by the Greek government. «Due to the higher number of passengers, we have a higher income and we had higher income from our commercial businesses, such as shops,» he said. A loss had been expected for the first year of trading but «we did better than the estimated loss,» he said. The facility handled 12.7 million passengers a year – based on figures that include the last few months of traffic from the old Athens airport – compared with a business plan that assumed 12.1 million in the first year. Athens International Airport built the airport in return for about 25 years of revenue as its operator. The revenue is to pay dividends and repay debt accumulated during construction before the facility is handed back to the Greek government around 2025. Mitscherlich said the company would grow via increased traffic from three main areas: Athens’s growing appeal as a tourist destination, the airport’s location as a potential hub for the Balkans and eastern Mediterranean, and an opportunity to develop as a hub for flights from Asia to Western Europe One challenge for Greek aviation-support businesses is getting payments from Olympic Airways SA, a chronically unprofitable carrier that the Greek State is trying to sell. Asked whether Olympic was paying its landing fees promptly, Mitscherlich said: «Not really promptly, but they are paying.» «It (Olympic) is still our biggest debtor. We are not too worried because in the end we will get the money. Even if they go bankrupt I don’t think the State will run away (from the debt).» He did not say how much Olympic owed. DRY CARGO