Air travel to Messinia, one of Greece’s up and coming areas, is about to improve.
The Greek government is preparing to privatise the international airport of Kalamata, in southwestern Greece, in a key infrastructure project that will improve access to one of the country’s most beautiful – and underrated – areas.
The tender to manage the airport for the next 30-40 years is expected to be launched over the summer and is likely to draw strong interest from local and international investors.
The airport is located on the outskirts of Kalamata, a city of some 70,000 people where living standards have improved sharply. Its blend of modern living with Greek tradition is drawing more people to a region witnessing economic growth and rising income levels.
Figures from Greece’s statistics agency ELSTAT show that GDP per capita levels in Messinia shot up 40 percent since 2000, one of the fastest growth rates seen in the country.
The broader area of Messinia also has a lot to offer.
The introduction of the nearby Costa Navarino golf resort in 2010 helped add an international dimension to the area.
By providing Michelin-quality food, comfort, wellness and sports events, Costa Navarino has taken luxury to a whole new level with its five-star deluxe hotels and villas.
The resort has had such a big impact on the area that the name of the Costa Navarino founder, Captain Vassilis Konstantakopoulos, has been given to Kalamata’s airport.
Other towns that are a must-see in the area include Pylos and Methoni, while the nearby beaches of Voidokilia and Gialova will leave you speechless.
The secret about Messinia though is out.
Data shows that air traffic growth at Kalamata’s airport is among the strongest in Greece.
In 2018, 280.000 passengers travelled through the airport, a number that jumped to 336,000 in 2019. Traffic dipped sharply in 2020 due to the pandemic but rose again to 174,000 in 2021. For this year, numbers are largely expected to recover 2019 levels, i.e., reaching close to 336,000.
The decision by Greece to privatise the airport in Kalamata comes after the government handed over the management of 14 airports across the country to Germany’s Fraport – a 1.2-billion-euro deal reached in 2017. This deal included the airports of Thessaloniki, Chania, Preveza and Santorini.
In what is considered to be one of Greece’s most successful privatisations, the German company has upgraded and improved the management of these airports, boosting the quality of air travel in the country.
On many occasions the capacities of airports have also been increased, along with improvements to services provided to travellers.
Since taking on the Greek airports, Fraport has received several awards for its work in the southern European country, thanks to the efficiency of its management.
An important note to make at this point is that Greek airports have not seen the massive delays that have arisen at other airports worldwide this summer. In a report, Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper pointed out that unprecedented chaos has arisen at European airports lately but that passengers in Athens “report waiting only a few minutes at security checks and that baggage claim operate without delays.”
22 more to come
Greek officials are also preparing the groundwork for the privatisation of 22 more airports around the country. Although the date has yet to be set, officials soon expected to invite investors to take on the remaining 22 airports currently managed by the state.
These airports are: Alexandroupolis, Araxos, Astypalea, Chios, Ikaria, Ioannina, Kalymnos, Karpathos, Kasos, Kastelorizo, Kastoria, Kozani, Kythira, Leros, Lemnos, Milos, Nea Anchialos, Naxos, Paros, Sitia, Skyros and Syros.