India’s GMR, Greece’s GEK sole bidders for Crete airport

A consortium comprising the two developers is looking to manage the island’s new airport in a contract worth up to €1bn.

A joint venture between Indian and Greek conglomerates GMR Group and GEK Terna Group is getting closer to winning a contract for Crete’s new airport estimated at €1 billion after the team emerged as the only bidder for the project.

Under the terms of the offer, GMR Airports would be responsible for the design, construction, financing, operation and maintenance of the Heraklion airport for a concession period of 35 years. The bid would also see the consortium take a minimum 10 percent stake in the hub.

A spokeswoman for GMR Airports said the bid is in line with the group’s “asset-light growth strategy” and that the value to GMR from the project will come more from its contract to run the site rather than its ownership stake in the airport.

The new Heraklion airport will replace Crete’s current hub, which saw traffic grow 6.3 percent to 10.3 million passengers last year. GMR said the existing facility is struggling with capacity constraints and unable to cope with growing traffic demand. Crete is the largest and most visited island in Greece.

The airport is not the only asset being sold under Greece’s €50 billion privatisation programme to have attracted unique bids. FS Italiane in March emerged as the only bidder for TrainOSE, the state-owned rail operator, while China’s Cosco Group’s €280.5 million offer for 51 percent of Piraeus Port was also unopposed.

Other assets currently up for sale or leasing by HRADF, the country's privatisation agency, include rolling stock maintenance company ROSCO and the Egnatia toll road.