Athens Digest 16.01.2019

• Tsipras eyes win after MPs switch allegiance

• In Athens, Moscovici to meet govt but not opposition

• JP Morgan: PM’s pledge for October election remains ambitious

# Prime Minister Tsipras is widely expected to win tonight’s vote of confidence in parliament. Spyros Danellis from the centrist Potami party sided with the PM (and was expelled from his party minutes later)  bringing the number of lawmakers backing the government to at least 151 _ the minimum required. With a win, Tsipras is expected to push ahead with the ratification of the Macedonia deal within days, as European allies continued to signal their support.

# Financial Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici visits Athens today but has not included scheduled meetings with Mitsotakis or other opposition party leaders. He is due to hold talks with Tsipras and  President Pavlopoulos, as well as Deputy PM Yannis Dragasakis, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, Labour Minister Effie Achitsoglou and Energy Minister George Stathakis. Moscovici traveled to speak at conference organized by the French-Greek Chamber of Commerce.

# Moscovici’s visit also comes amid growing concern that a drawn out pre-election period could hurt Greece’s recovery and it reform agenda. In a report, U.S. investment bank JP Morgan maintained that a win for PM Tsipras in parliament tonight would still mean that his target to take the government to a full term and hold an election in October was ambitious, given the slimmest of majorities from a handful opposition lawmakers. Citing recent opinion polls, the report said New Democracy leader Mitsotakis was on course for an outright election victory. And despite their resurgent rivalry, it said his most likely coalition partner, if needed, remains the Socialist Pasok. Ahead of its upcoming ratings decision for Greece, S&P said it expects the country’s growth rate to settle at around 2.4 percent in the following years, adding that there was potential for an improved performance given the right political conditions.

On our Radar: Airport Surge
Passenger traffic at Greek airports has seen a huge increase in 2018, reaching 63.7 million, according to newly-released data. The Civil Aviation Authority said the annual figure was up by 10.1 percent from the previous year when the total was 57.86 million. A 10 percent increase was also seen in the total number of flights, which reached 532,631 last year _ 207,367 domestic and 325,264 international. The data also reflected improved traffic during off-peak months. The airports of Athens, Thessaloniki, Heraklion, Hania and Rhodes remain the country’s busiest, while the fast increase in traffic late in the year was seen at the airports of Sitia, Milos, and Naxos. Last year, regional airport operator Fraport reported a passenger traffic increase on 8.9 percent in 2018.