ATHENS, May 6 (Reuters) - Greece is considering extending a deadline for bids to build and operate a new airport on the island of Crete, sources close to the tender process said on Friday.
The government, which signed up to a third international bailout last summer and wants to attract investment to help the economy return to growth, had set a May 6 deadline for the submission of binding bids to build the Kasteli airport.
“All interested parties have asked for an extension and the ministry is looking into it,” said an infrastructure ministry official, declining to be named.
Greece is one of Europe’s top tourist destinations and the 850 million euro ($970 million) Kasteli project would be its fourth biggest airport in terms of traffic, replacing Crete’s outdated Heraklion airport, which is struggling to handle nearly 2.6 million tourists a year.
Greece has made several fruitless attempts to build the facility since 2010 but its debt crisis scared 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.
$1 = 0.8762 euros Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; editing by David Clarke