June 16, 2016 / 6:35 PM / 3 years ago

Greece postpones deadline for Kasteli airport bids to end-July

ATHENS, June 16 (Reuters) - Greece has extended to end-July the deadline for bids to build and operate a new airport on the island of Crete.

The government, which signed up to a third international bailout last year, had initially set a February deadline for submission of binding bids for the build-operate transfer (BOT) project worth an estimated 850 million euros ($967 million).

“The binding financial offers for the new international airport of Heraklion, Crete, in Kasteli will be submitted in late July,” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in a speech on Thursday.

A source familiar with the matter said the tender had been pushed back because the terms on which investors will submit their bids were not ready yet.

The Crete Kasteli airport project is expected to be the fourth-biggest airport in Greece in terms of traffic and would replace the ageing Heraklion airport now struggling to handle nearly 2.6 million tourists a year.

Tsipras said the project would bring “multiple benefits to many sectors of the island economy, besides tourism.”

Greece has made several fruitless attempts to build the facility since 2010, with its debt crisis scaring investors away.

France’s Vinci was expected to make a joint bid with Greek contractor Ellaktor, as was Spain’s ACS with GEK-Terna, officials from the Greek companies have told Reuters.

China State Construction Engineering and joint venture partner Zurich Airport were also interested in the project, according to a ministerial decision which extended a previous February deadline. (Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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