Vinci Concessions, one of Greece’s largest construction companies, has weathered the economic downturn only to come out charging. Panayotis Papanikolas, Country Manager of Vinci Concessions, shares his thoughts on building the future of Greece.
How did the crisis affect infrastructure development?
Vinci Concessions kept the two construction projects on Olympia Odos and Aegean Motorway on track through constant dialog with Greek authorities and local stakeholders. This constructive, positive approach kept us going and was the key to deliver the two new motorways late April. The Greek State trusted Vinci, which in return relied on highly qualified Greek workers and Greek construction companies. The construction period has mobilized approximately 10,000 direct and indirect jobs and the operation of the facilities today represent approximately 1,000 direct jobs.
How did Vinci adjust commercial operations to economic challenges?
We successfully faced the challenge with creative solutions and a positive approach. For instance, on iconic Rion-Antirion Bridge, which we operated since 2004, we implemented a new commercial policy to gain back the traffic. We focused on new electronic tolling products and new consumer options. Today, traffic is increasing and 70% of heavy trucks use our bridge, a return to the pre-crisis level of traffic.
We also reshaped construction projects on Olympia Odos and Aegan Motorway in order to better match with the economic situation.
What is Vinci future here?
Vinci is a longstanding partner of the Greek authorities. Ever since the construction of the first Athens metro lines almost 30 years ago until the inauguration of the Aegean Motorway and Olympia Odos highways, this partnership has paved the way to large-scale infrastructure projects that are crucial for shaping a dynamic Greece. New large-scale projects are in the pipeline, and in light of this effort to build Greece’s future, Vinci’s strategy is to sustain and strengthen its presence in the country. Line 4 of Athens Metro and new road concessions, namely Egnatia Odos, are projects that we are considering. We will continue with a demanding approach, based on the principle that we participate in such a project with the goal of providing high-level operation and maintenance services of the motorway for the benefit of the users and the local community.
Has Greece gained momentum since June, following the second EU review?
France is Greece’s greatest friend and supporter. With the commissioning of the Aegean and Olympia Odos motorways, Vinci is participating, under the supervision of Greek authorities, in the return of growth to the country. The two large-scale, brand new and renovated 360-kilometer long projects will improve connectivity between the Greek capital and strategic regions, namely the popular port of Patras and Thessaloniki. The new fully integrated motorways also represent an upgrade in safety standards. The inauguration of these two roads is another push towards improvement and embodies the vision of Vinci.