Antitrust: the Commission finds no illegal aid in concession deals for Greek regional airports

The European Commission has concluded that concessions for 14 regional airports in Greece were awarded on market terms and therefore did not involve any State aid. The concession agreements are part of Greece’s commitments in the context of the stability support programme.

In 2014 Greece awarded two contracts granting the concession for the upgrade, maintenance, management and operation of fourteen Greek regional airports, to the German-Cypriot Fraport AG-Slentel Ltd consortium. The first contract encompasses the Cretan, Continental Greece and Ionian Sea regional airports: Aktion ChaniaKavala, Kefallonia, KerkiraThessaloniki and Zakynthos airports, while the second one encompasses the Aegean regional airports, consisting of Kos, Mikonos, Mitilini, RhodesSamosSantorini and Skiathos airports. In exchange for these concessions, Fraport AG-Slentel Ltd will pay concession fees to the Greek State.

The concession agreements were signed in December 2015 and subsequently ratified by the Greek Parliament. In October 2016, Greece notified them to the Commission in order to obtain confirmation that they do not constitute illegal State aid.

On 17 March 2017, the Commission found that the terms of the concession agreements are in line with market conditions, in particular because they result from a competitive, transparent and non-discriminatory tender. It also found that Greece selected the best offer submitted in this tender, since the concessions had been granted to the company whose offer would generate the highest revenues for the Greek State. On this basis, the Commission concluded that the Greek State awarded the concessions under terms that a private operator would also have accepted. Under EU rules on State aid, a concession for the commercial operation of infrastructure can be considered free of State aid if it is awarded on terms that a private player operating under market conditions would also have accepted when offering a concession for similar assets.

The Commission also considered that the provision or procurement of certain public services by the Greek State (such as air traffic, police and customs controls at the airports concerned) do not confer an economic advantage on the airport operator and therefore do not constitute State aid to the latter.

For these reasons, the Commission concluded that, according to EU rules, the concession agreements do not constitute State aid.


Davide Scavuzzo