Lamda says "wind of change" blows over Hellinikon
Optimism is rising among the ranks of Greece's Lamda Development, the company leading an eight billion euro development of the old Athens airport, with its chief executive saying that the delayed project may be soon be entering implementation phase.
At a conference Wednesday, Lamda Development Chief Executive Odysseas Athanasiou said that he "feels there is a different environment concerning the investment in recent weeks. I think the investment will go ahead. There is a wind of change among the relevant authorities regarding its implementation."
A deal signed by Lamda Development, along with China's Fosun group and Eagle Hills from United Arabic Emirates, has suffered repeated setbacks due to red tape and resistance from factions within the left wing Syriza government to the privatisation. The latest objections to the project have been set by Greece's archaeological and forestry services.
There could, however, be a shift in the government's stance towards investments of this magnitude after the latest batch of severe austerity measures approved last month by the country in exchange for further rescue funding.
Keen to boost the country's weak economic sentiment, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told ministers at a cabinet meeting last week to push ahead with investments that have been caught up by bureaucracy. Tsipras has been a supporter of the development, to take place in the area of Hellinikon, but the project has also been held up by a small group of local residents and the Syriza party's hardcore leftists factions that have a far reaching network within the pubic administration.
Athanasiou said that if Hellinikon's master plan is approved by the Council of State, Greece's highest administrative court, in coming months then construction work could start in the first half of 2018.
"In this event, and if all goes well, Hellinikon is likely to accept its first tourists in 2021 after having built initial tourism and commercial destinations," he said.