Crete is set to become home to a new international airport, which will be Greece’s second-largest airport, after Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis laid the foundation stone at Kastelli, on Saturday.
“This airport will be the best in the country. End of story. The most modern, the most environmentally friendly, one that will incorporate the latest technologies,” Mitsotakis said during a special ceremony.
Ariadne Airport Group – a joint venture between Greek firm GEK Terna and India’s GMR Airports Limited (GAL) – was awarded the concession contract last year. Meanwhile, earlier this year, the European Investment Bank (EIB) pledged its support of the project with a 28-year, 180-million-euro loan to Greece.
Under the concession agreement, Ariadne Airport Group is bound to complete the project within 54 months plus six months for trials – 60 months in total. The 35-year deal foresees six-term deadlines from the starting date. The concessionaire is also required within that time to secure licensing and certification requirements.
Budgeted at 850 million euros, the highly anticipated transport infrastructure project is expected to create 2,000 jobs during the construction period and some 7,500 direct employment positions once completed. An additional 37,000 indirect jobs are projected at opening up in the areas of tourism and trade.
The Kastelli Airport, set to replace the current Nikos Kazantzakis airport in Heraklion and is expected to become Greece’s second-biggest, handling more than eight million passengers per year.
Mitsotakis referred to the importance of the new airport, which is located “in the heart of the Eastern Mediterranean” and stressed its potential to become a regional hub due to its proximity – in less than four hours to the capitals of Western Europe, and from large cities in the Middle East and North Africa, “transforming Crete into a tourism destination and hub all year round”.
“The new Kasteli Airport “will create 7,000 jobs… and marks the first major Indian investment in Greece of the new era… a project that comes on the back of our partnership with Fraport, which upgraded 14 regional airports… and we’re not stopping here. An additional 23 airports are next in line, with relevant announcements in the upcoming period,” said Mitsotakis, who was accompanied by Infrastructure Minister Kostas Karamanlis.