Passenger traffic at Athens International Airport (AIA) increased 10.1 percent in the first half of the year, its new chief executive said yesterday. AIA, 55 percent-owned by the Greek government and 45 percent by German contractor Hochtief, said traffic rose to 7.4 million passengers in the first six months, boosted by 17 low-cost carriers flying from Athens. AIA executives said they expected passenger traffic to be up 6 to 7 percent in the full year. Last year passenger traffic at Athens grew 5.6 percent to a new record of 15.1 million as the six-year-old airport handled more flights. Pretax profit rose 67 percent to -96.3 million. Greece has said it wants to reduce its stake in AIA and take the company public on the Athens Exchange but the plan is not likely to be implemented this year. «Our concern is to be ready for a stock market listing. Our shareholders are inclined to discuss this, but after the elections,» AIA’s new chief executive Yannis Paraschis told reporters. AIA saw a 5.5 percent increase in the number of flights last year, with its cargo business up 3.6 percent at 120,000 tons. The average load factor was 70 percent of capacity. Paraschis said the airport will build a 50,000-square-meter exhibition and conference center by 2009 and is also considering a second hotel at the facility.