Athens Digest 12.02.2019

• Regling: Greece has ‘few more weeks’ to secure bond-profit payout

• Banks, government inch towards compromise on property protection

• Airbnb factor weighs on Greek property market

# ESM managing director Klaus Regling says Greece still has “open issues” that need to be resolved before Greece can secure agreement from creditors for the payout of ECB bond profits at the next Eurogroup meeting on one month’s time. “The open issues are clearly identified and we know that the authorities are working very hard,” Regling told reporters after last night after yesterday’s Eurogroup meeting. “But I cannot tell you today what will happen at the next Eurogroup. It will depend on developments until then.” He added: “The amount of these profits is not negligible. Together it’s almost a billion euros this year.” (video – scroll to 13.20)

# Representatives from the government and Greece’s four major banks have agreed to hold a second meeting this week in an effort to hammer out a compromise on rules to protect primary residences from foreclosure. Reports in the Greek news media last night indicated that the two sides were closer to settling on a figure around EUR 120,000 as the protection benchmark, but remained at odds on other terms _ guidelines for restructuring loans for distressed mortgage-holders _ as well as the scope of the new protection scheme. Banks want to set the protection limit at homes with a tax value of up to EUR 100,000, about half the amount sought by the government. Current provisions under the so-called Katselis Law expire at the end of the month.

# The rental market in Greece may remain flat nationally, but short-term rentals using services like Airbnb have triggered a sharp rise in demand in areas of Athens and other cities visited by tourists. Bank of Greece figures for 2018 show that rents in high-demand areas, mostly in Athens surged by up to 50 percent on the year. The rising popularity of home rentals for holidaymakers has put pressure on traditional rents in those areas, adding to the impact of sluggish construction levels throughout the financial crisis. Separately, Alexandros Vassilikos, head of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels, called on the government to urgently review tax and licencing policies for hotels, arguing that delayed reforms were giving apartment rentals an unfair advantage

On our Radar: High Flying Isle 
January may not be the busiest month on the tourism calendar, but regional Greek airport operator Fraport has had good start to the year _ with one standout performer: Mykonos. The island’s airport saw a whopping 120.6 percent in passenger traffic, thanks to the completion of runway improvements. Overall, Fraport saw a traffic increase of 12.3 percent, with a domestic pickup at nine of its 14 airports last month. International travellers increased by 23.6 percent on the year in January, led by landings at Thessaloniki and Hania.