Nearly 19 years after first coming into operation in advance of the 2004 Olympics Summer Games, Athens International Airport’s authority in charge of the management of the facility, AIA,  has been given a new 20-year concession contract by the European Commission.

The EU’s executive for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, said the Commission found that the €1.1 billion fee that will be paid by AIA for the 20-year extension of the airport’s concession corresponds to a market price.

“This means that AIA will not benefit from any state aid in the form of an unduly low fee for the concession. The Commission cooperated actively with the Greek authorities to reach a positive result, which is one of the most important economic transactions under the Greek privatisation programme.”

According to EU competition rules, a concession contract for the commercial exploitation of infrastructure is not considered state aid if it is awarded under conditions that would be acceptable to an otherwise private company operating under market conditions.

The European Commission found that the initial value of the extension of the concession contract proposed by the AIA, amounting to €484 million, was based on economic and business parameters that were not in line with market conditions. As no private operator would have accepted such an offer, the extension of the concession contract under these conditions would have constituted a form of state aid.

 Greece and the Commission have reportedly been cooperating in an active manner to determine the appropriate market value of an extension for the concession contract, which would no longer be classified as state aid, with the price to be paid by AIA increasing to €1,155 million.