Following the statement by Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure and Networks, Mr. Ch. Spirtzis, Fraport Greece clarifies:
Fraport Greece recognizing its responsibility towards local communities as well as the role of airports in local economies, decided to carry out a number of interventions and works during the summer period, which would not, though, reduce passengers’ traffic. In particular, from 11 April till today, 5,433 interventions, which were absolutely necessary for the operation of airports, have been carried out at the 14 airports, which have served successfully 2,5 mil. passengers more than last year.
It should be noted, however, that if the works for the development and modernization of the airport’s infrastructure started in the middle of the summer season, Greek tourism, national and local economy would suffer an enormous blow, since the capacity of the airports would be significantly reduced. Both the government and the competent authorities were fully informed of the timeline for the implementation of the investment program, which will reach the amount of 400 million euros – apart from the 1,234 bn. euros that have already been paid. As per the company’s planning the works are expected to commence this autumn. According to Fraport Greece's contractual obligation the works needs to be completed within the next four years, however it is anticipated that this will happen at an earlier stage. Hence, there is no delay in the implementation of the works or in Fraport Greece’s planning. However, these projects can only start as soon the 14 master plans already tabled by Fraport Greece are approved by the Ministry.
Regarding the scheduled, since 2006, development works at Thessaloniki airport (16/34 - runway 10/28 intersection), considering that the concerns of the local operators and airlines about the impact of the implementation of these projects during the summer period were well founded, Fraport Greece had supported, almost a year ago, their request for an extension of the works’ launch.
The works’ implementation means that the runway 16/34 of Thessaloniki airport should remain closed. It should be noted that runway 16/34 is the only runway operating in the airport, since the second runway (10/28) remains closed for more than a decade due to extension works.
Fraport Greece had no authority and no right to carry out these checks before assuming the management and operation of the 14 airports, nor did it have any reason to question the necessity of a project, for which the State is responsible. As soon as Fraport Greece took over the management and operation of the 14 regional airports (11 April 2017), it immediately proceeded to extensive checks, including the road surface strength of the 16/34 - 10/28 runway intersection at Thessaloniki airport . The checks were conducted in accordance with the strictest international standards and were completed in June 2017. The results and conclusions of the audit report were communicated to the relevant government authorities (Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, HCAA). According to these:
- the quality of the relevant infrastructure can serve the traffic of the airport for more than 20 years
- the condition of the road surface is characterized as compact and is considered to pose no risk to the smooth operation of the airport
- based on the results of the checks, the scheduled works at the intersection will not substantially improve the performance of the pavement
- most importantly, serious safety issues arise, due to the long period that the only operating runway will remain closed. Airlines have expressed their concern for this issue and will have to cancel flights from and to Thessaloniki airport.
The closure of runway 16/34 and the following 75% reduction in airport’s capacity for a period of at least four months will cause a massive blow to the local economy, causing hundreds of jobs to be lost in companies operating at the airport, while it is expected to cause serious security issues in the operation of the airport. Any delays in the completion of the works after April 2018, will have a disastrous impact since millions of passengers will be lost.
Fraport Greece does not want to make "suggestions" to the government regarding its decisions. It wishes, however, to have a constant and open communication, to inform relevant Ministries, State authorities and the local community about the issues related to the 14 airports and provide solutions when needed.