The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's financing institution, has provided the Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie de la Réunion (CCIR) with a FRF 100 million (EUR 15.245 million)(1) loan for extension of the passenger terminal at Saint Denis-Gillot airport on the Island of Réunion. The proceeds have been disbursed in two instalments of FRF 50 million each, the second of which was signed on 1 March.

The EIB is financing this project under its policy of fostering regional development in the European Union. It is thereby assisting development on the Island of Réunion, classified as a priority area for Community structural support (Objective 1), and contributing to the establishment of facilities designed to link this outlying region with mainland Europe.

The project forms part of a series of major improvements to Saint Denis-Gillot airport carried out since 1990 to cater for the constant increase in air traffic. The EIB initially contributed towards modernising Saint Denis-Gillot airport with a FRF 80 million loan in 1993 for construction of a runway accommodating wide-bodied aircraft. This second FRF 100 million loan will serve to double the size of the passenger terminal and improve facilities, thereby reducing congestion upon the arrival and departure of intercontinental flights from and to (principally) mainland France. The project includes extension of the check-in areas, departure lounge and baggage-handling facilities, as well as construction of three new airbridges and upgrading of sewage treatment works. The enlarged terminal will able to cope with 1 000 passengers arriving or departing at peak traffic periods.

Between 1994 and 1999, EIB loans in support of regional development totalled EUR 66.5 billion, representing 70% of lending within the European Union. Since 1993, the Island of Réunion has attracted Bank loans amounting to some FRF 1.122 million (EUR 171 million), comprising FRF 180 million (EUR 27.4 million) for upgrading its airport, FRF 793.6 million (EUR 121 million) for improving its road network and FRF 149 million (EUR 22.72 million) for expanding and modernising the island's secondary education infrastructure.

(1) EUR 1 = 6.55957 FRF; 0.621700 GBP.