ATHENS, Greece_Greece plans to build a new airport on the holiday island of Crete that will handle up to 12 million passengers annually by 2020, the government said Friday.
The new €1.1 billion (US$1.33 billion) airport at Kastelli will replace the existing one at nearby Iraklion, which is Greece's second busiest airport and serves up to 5 million passengers a year, the Transport Ministry said.
"We intend (the new airport) to become a transport hub for the eastern Mediterranean," Transport Minister Michalis Liapis said.
"It will boost tourism in Crete and contribute decisively to the development of the island and the country's economy," he added.
Liapis said the new airport, some 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) from the island capital of Iraklion - host to the ancient city of Knossos - would be built in partnership with private investors. He did not give further details.
The new airport is expected to be ready within eight to 10 years, Liapis said, and will be able to handle up to 5,000 passengers an hour during the peak summer season. The 3-kilometer (nearly 2-mile) runway will be suitable for all types of aircraft.
Transport Ministry spokesman Ilias Christeas said the government has not yet decided whether to retain the existing Iraklion airport once the new one is built at Kastelli.