The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's long-term lending institution, is providing a second loan of DEM 595 million ( ECU 303 million)(1) for the development of the new Athens international airport, located at Spata, 30 km south-east of the Greek capital. The financing agreement was signed in Luxembourg for the EIB by Mr P. Gennimatas, Vice-President, and for the Athens International Airport S.A. (AIA) by Dr J. Schill, Chief Executive Officer.

The loan forms part of a larger facility of up to an equivalent of DEM 1 950 million (ECU 992 million) approved by the EIB. A first loan of DEM 250 million ( ECU 127 million) under this facility was signed in June 1996. Financing will be phased over the project's 56 months construction period (1996-early 2001).

The EIB's loan finance will be complemented by funding from a syndicate of international commercial banks led by Bayerische Vereinsbank, and including Commerz Bank, Deutsche Bank and Dresdner Bank, as well as ABN AMRO Bank Deutschland and BZW Deutschland.

The loan goes to the AIA, formed specifically for constructing, financing, owning and operating the new airport. AIA's share capital is held 55% by the Greek State and 45% by an international consortium comprising Hochtief AG, ABB Calor Emaq Schaltanlagen AG, H. Krantz-TKT GmbH and Flughafen Athen-Spata Projektgesellschaft GmbH. The consortium leader Hochtief together with ABB Calor Emaq Schaltanlagen AG and H. Krantz-TKT GmbH are responsible for the construction of the airport facilities to specifications set by the Greek Government. Flughafen Frankfurt-Main AG as an advisory agreement with AIA for the airport's initial operational stage.

Works include the construction of runway and taxiway systems for handling up to 65 aircraft movements per hour, with a total of 69 aircraft stands of which 24 are contact and 45 remote, the terminal and associated buildings with capacity for an annual throughput of 15 million passengers, car parking for 6 540 places, as well as ancillary facilities (fuel depots, cargo handling and maintenance areas).

The Bank regards the new Athens international airport " Eleftherios Venizelos" as a project of exceptional importance to the development of the Union's transport network. It is supported jointly by the EIB and the Union's Cohesion Fund, as a key project on the priority list of Trans-European Network projects (TENS) approved by the Essen European Council in December 1994.

The European Investment Bank was set up by the Treaty of Rome in 1958 to provide long-term loans for capital investment furthering European Integration. Owned by the EU Member States, the Bank raises most of its resources on capital markets. In 1996 the Bank made loans totalling ECU 21.5 billion of which 723 million ECUs (GRD 225 billion) in Greece. EIB remains the largest single financier of TENs, having lent some ECU 33 billion for this purpose since 1993 for capital investment representing over ECU 120 billion. Examples of EIB TENs financing covers a whole variety of projects ranging from TGV systems in Northern Europe and Italy, to the Øresund link between Denmark and Sweden, and gas pipelines in Greece and between North Africa and Spain and Italy. Since the accession of Greece, the EIB has advanced ECU 1 913.5 million (GRD 594 billion) to support the improvement of the Greek transport network. The Bank has financed road and rail links along all the main transport axes of the country, such as the motorways PATHE, EGNATIA and Corinth-Tripoli, the railway line Athens-Idomeni, Athens Metro, the New Athens International Airport " Eleftherios Venizelos" and the Athens peripheral motorway. EIB finance has also gone towards improvement of interregional and regional road links, as well as the modernisation of ten regional airports and nine ports.

(1) The conversion rates used by the EIB for statistical purposes during the current quarter are those obtaining on 30 September 1997, when ECU 1 = GBP 0.69, GRD 310.728, DEM 1.97, FRF 6.60.