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IATA calls for Greek investment in air traffic control, airports

George Georgiopoulos

* Greece is Europe's eighth largest aviation market

* Air transport contributes 10.2% to GDP

* Industry can grow by at least 35% with right moves

ATHENS, June 25 (Reuters) - Greece needs to invest to ensure the viability of its air traffic management system and recruit more air traffic controllers to reduce delays during the summer period, executives from global airlines body IATA said on Tuesday.

IATA said Greece must also contain airport charges and expand terminal and runway capacity to maximize the potential of its air transport industry, which contributes about 17.8 billion euros ($20.3 billion), or 10.2%, to gross domestic product.

"Air transport is such a lifeline for Greece's economy, a key driver. The potential is enormous but to unleash it, key recommendations must be addressed," International Air Transport Association Chief Executive Alexandre de Juniac told reporters.

Greece, which is the eighth-largest aviation market in Europe and has been privatizing its airports as it seeks to fully recover from eight years of recession, grew its air connectivity by 106% from 2013 to last year.

"Airport charges include high concession fees and are not set based on sound economic regulatory principles but based on concession agreements," IATA said.

Some 25.5 million passengers and 73,000 freight tonnes departed from Greek airports in 2017 and IATA said new terminal and runway infrastructure need to be developed to meet future increases in passenger demand.

The airlines body projected that in the next 20 years the number of departing passengers will grow by 33.1% and that if Greece pursues the right policies then the air transport industry can grow by at least 35% over the same period. (Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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