(Adds detail, quotes)
ATHENS, Sept 29 Greece has extended the deadline
for bids to build and operate a new airport on Crete to replace
the ageing Heraklion airport to Oct. 27, a senior infrastructure
ministry official said on Thursday.
The government initially set a February deadline for bids
for the Kasteli project but it has been pushed backed several
times due to delays in preparing documents, with the latest
deadline set to expire on Friday.
"The (infrastructure) minister decided today to postpone it
by a few days, after a request by four interested parties,"
George Dedes, secretary general for infrastructure, told
The project is seen as a test for investors' appetite in a
country which is struggling to get its economy back on track
after signing up to a third international bailout last year.
Greece has made several attempts since 2009 to attract
investors for the build-operate-transfer (BOT) airport project
worth an estimated 850 million euros ($955 million), but the
country's debt crisis has deterred investors.
The project, which will be funded by private and EU funds,
is expected to turn Kasteli into the country's fourth-largest
airport by traffic, replacing Heraklion which is struggling to
handle nearly 6 million passengers a year.
Greek construction group GEK TERNA will bid for
the project, a company official, who declined to be named, told
Reuters on Thursday.
Greek media have reported that France's Vinci with
Greek contractor Ellaktor, France's Bouygues
with J&P Avax, China State Construction Engineering
and India's GMR Infrastructure were all
among potential bidders.
Dedes said there were at least five interested joint
ventures, without disclosing further details.
($1 = 0.8905 euros)
(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; editing by David Clarke)