Steps made on Hellinikon but minister avoids timeframe

Progress is being made on the development of the old Athens airport, said Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos Thursday, but he refused to estimate when construction of the eight billion euro project may commence.

Concerns are rising over fresh delays to the project, stretching over 6.2 million square meters in Hellinikon, after objections from ruling Syriza lawmakers and party members over the archaelogical findings on the site and whether they are being adequately protected.

Speaking in parliament, the finance minister said that steps made include the recording of data of 900 dwellings on site and the passing of a new legal amendment allowing for the construction and operation of a casino.

"There cannot be a strict timeframe when some things are out of the government's hands", said the minister, referring to Greece's archaelogical and forestry services.

" We are trying to find the best solutions."

READ MORE: Hellinikon airport project may be headed for more delays

A consortium led by Greek developer Lamda, that includes China’s Fosun group and Eagle Hills from the United Arab Emirates, has undertaken the project that is seen as playing a key role in kickstarting Greece’s economy.

The project, that includes park areas and residential developments, is also seen as transforming the real estate market along the southern Athens area that includes the affluent suburbs of Glyfada and Voula.

Although Greece’s left wing government has openly backed the project after renegotiating the deal since coming into power, some factions within the Syriza party strongly oppose the privatisation.