State aid. The Commission has authorized the extension of the concession to operate Athens international airport

On 12 December 2018, the European Commission has found that the 20 years extension of Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos concession is compliant with European State aid rules. The airport is operated by the Athens International Airport S.A. (AIA – the Greek State holds 55% of AIA shares) 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.

Pursuant to  article 107 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), any aid granted by a Member State or through State resources in any form whatsoever distorting or threatening to distort competition, by favoring certain undertakings or the production of certain goods, is incompatible with the internal market and therefore prohibited.

At first, the Commission considered that the fee amounting to 484 million euro calculated by the Greek Government was not in line with market conditions and could have been considered an illegal State aid. After an active cooperation between Greece and the Commission the fee was increased to 1,115 billion euro.

In evaluating alleged State aid measures, the Commission may apply the market economy investor principle. In the present case the Commission has found that the recalculated fee corresponds to a market price thus the measure respects the market economy investor principle and does not constitute State aid.

The extension of the Athens International Airport concession is one of the transactions included in the Greek Government’s privatisation programme, to which Greece committed under the European Stability Mechanism support programme, which was successfully concluded on 20 August 2018.


Davide Scavuzzo