January 10, 2018 / 5:04 PM / 5 months ago

Greek court to consider approval of Hellenikon tourist project late this month

ΑΤΗΕΝS, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Greece’s top administrative court will consider on Jan. 29 whether to give the go ahead for a luxury resort project on a disused Athens airport, that is a key part of the government’s privatisation programme.

Progress on the project, which has been beset by delays, is being watched by Greece’s creditors as a test of Athens’ commitment to privatisation under its multi-billion euro international bailout.

Property developer Lamda signed a 99-year lease with the state in 2014 to convert 620 hectares of wasteland at the former Hellenikon airport into a complex of luxury residences, hotels, a yachting marina and casinos.

Athens has struggled to fast track the project, partly due to opposition from groups that fear it will damage the environment and local cultural heritage.

Lamda, backed by Chinese and Gulf funds, submitted its 8 billion euro ($9.3 bln) development plan last July.

The court, known as the Council of State, needs to sign off on a presidential decree to build the resort on the site, which was Athens’ main airport until 2001. The process will start on Jan. 29 but the court may need more than one session to reach a decision, court officials said on Wednesday.

The government will then have to licence a casino in the area and issue building permits for Lamda to start excavation work.

Lamda has said 10,000 jobs will be created once construction works start and the project will generate 70,000 jobs within five to six years.

After a crippling recession that cut Greece’s economic output by 25 percent between 2008 and 2016 and sent unemployment to record highs, the country is gradually returning to growth. (Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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