EC finds no aid in €1.1 billion extension of Athens International Airport concession
The fee AIA will pay for the extension respects market conditions, and therefore AIA receives no undue economic advantage or aid.
Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos is operated by the Athens International Airport S.A. (AIA) under a concession agreement covering the period 1996 to 2026. Under the measure notified by Greece to the Commission, this concession will be extended until 2046, against the payment of an increased fee.
Under EU rules, a concession for the commercial operation of infrastructure can be considered free of State aid if it is awarded on terms that a private company operating under market conditions would also have accepted when granting a concession for similar assets.
The Commission found that the initial value of the extended concession proposed by AIA, amounting to €484 million, was based on financial and business parameters that were not in line with market conditions. A private operator would not have accepted such an offer, and therefore the extension of the concession on these terms would have constituted State aid.
Greece cooperated actively with the Commission to determine the adequate market value of the extended concession, which would no longer entail State aid. Following these exchanges, the fee to be paid by AIA to Greece was significantly increased to €1,115 million.
In the light of this increased price, the Commission found that the extended concession involves no State aid because AIA will pay an adequate market fee to continue operating Athens International Airport. ■