econostrum.info : What about the Port of Piraeus expansion?
Stavros Hatzakos: This vital expansion for Piraeus has entered the final stage of its approval and integration into the Regional Operational Programme for the Attica region.
We want to build six berths for the new generation cruise ships that are longer than 300m and carry more than 4,000 passengers.
We are also going to build a quay wall 3,400m in length and 18m deep, as well as a 160,000m2 passenger quay.
These construction projects should begin in 2013 and finish in 2020.
This will enable the port to successfully handle the increase in cruise passenger traffic that is today five times greater than in 2002. Back then, we processed 621,961 cruise passengers in the year. In 2011, annual cruise passenger throughput stood at 2,517,317! This is, however, not the only problem.
Currently, as regards accommodating large cruise ships, the Port of Piraeus is completely saturated. It cannot meet the requirements created by the constant demand for Mediterranean cruises and the entry into service of high capacity Panamax and post-Panamax super container ships.
How many jobs will this expansion create?
S.H.: According to our studies, we estimate that 4,500 jobs will be created during the construction phase and 4,600 jobs in the second, operational, phase of the port.
Who is the main competitor of the Port of Piraeus?
S.H.: The cruise market is a special market that does not really fall into the area of competition. The very nature of cruises means that passengers have to travel to several ports. We are all, therefore, both partners and competitors.
Competition exists in terms of the quality of services offered, however every port wants to integrate cruise circuits.
The Port of Piraeus is partnered with the majority of Mediterranean ports, but it is clear that the biggest competition comes from the Turkish ports.
What are the future prospects for cruises?
S.H.: Despite a poor economic situation, the Port of Piraeus has managed to stay in the top three or four Mediterranean cruise ports with positive prospects for the future.
It was even judged to be the number three Mediterranean base port.
However, we must remain vigilant as there is still a lot of work to be done.