January 23, 2020 / 1:16 PM / 24 days ago

EIB signs 180 million euro loan to fund new Greek airport

FILE PHOTO: Tourists arrive at Heraklion airport on the Greek island of Crete, July 6, 2015. REUTERS/Stefanos Rapanis - GF10000150444/File Photo

ATHENS (Reuters) - The European Union’s lending arm, the European Investment Bank (EIB), signed a 180-million-euro ($199.69 million) loan deal with Greece to help it pay its share for a new airport on Crete, the country’s biggest island.

Greece has been upgrading its airport facilities to handle an increasing number of tourists visiting the country, one of the world’s top holiday destinations.

Last year Ariadne Airport Group, a joint venture between India’s GMR Airports and Greek contractor GEK Terna (HRMr.AT), was awarded the contract to build the new 520-million-euro airport in Kasteli, Crete.

The group will hold a 54% stake in the build-operate-transfer project, with Greece taking up the rest. The new facility will replace Crete’s Heraklion airport which struggles to handle 8 million passengers annually, mainly tourists.

Since 2009, Greece has made several attempts to find investors for the airport but a debt crisis that started at the end of that year, and eased only in 2015, turned potential suitors away.

The new 28-year EIB loan to the Greek government will now allow construction works to kick off.

Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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