Greece approves sale of 14 airports to German company

Deal first in a wave of bailout privatisations

Greece Approves Fire Sale of 14 Airports
Greece has agreed to sell the operating rights for 14 of its airports to a German company. The deal is the first in a wave of privatisations the government must make to qualify for bailout loans.

The decision would hand over the airports to Fraport AG, which runs Frankfurt Airport - one of Europe's biggest - among others across the world.

The deal comprises the seven airports of Thessaloniki, Aktio, Chania (Crete), Kavala, Kefalonia, Kerkyra (Corfu) and Zakynthos.

The other seven airports are in Rhodes, Kos, Myconos, Mytilene, Samos, Santorini and Skiathos. In 2013, these airports served about 19.1 million passengers.

The deal is worth €1.23bn euros (£0.9bn) for a 40-year operating licence. It's the first privatisation decision taken by the government of Alexis Tsipras, who was elected prime minister in January.

The government had promised to cancel the country's privatisation programme but Tsipras caved in to win a deal on a third international bailout for Greece, worth €86bn.

Without the rescue loans Greece would default on its debts and risk being kicked out of the euro.

Banking restrictions relaxed

Meanwhile, the government has slightly relaxed its restrictions on banking transactions, allowing small amounts to be sent abroad for the first time in about two months.

The finance ministry's amendments include allowing Greeks to send up to €500 abroad per person per month, and allowing up to €8,000 per quarter to be sent to students studying abroad to cover accommodation costs.

Greeks can now also open new bank accounts that will have no withdrawal rights, in order to repay loans, social security contributions or tax debts, reports The Guardian.

The government restricted banking transactions in late June to prevent a bank run after Tsipras announced a referendum on creditors' terms for a new bailout.