Skylink scandal searches in Vienna and Lower Austria

The apartments of former Vienna International Airport’s (VIA or VIE) managers in Vienna and Lower Austria have been searched by prosecutors, it was confirmed.Klosterneuburg prosecutors announced that search warrants were executed at two homes of former VIA decision-makers and businesspeople assigned to create a new terminal called Skylink this morning (Tues). They added that several documents and data storage devices were seized in the searches as investigations of the business project continue.Prosecutors have been investigating against ex-board members of Flughafen Wien AG – the company which manages VIA – for months in connection with fraud accusations and cost overruns in constructing Skylink.Building activities started six years ago as it was the plan to put the main parts of Skylink into operation shortly ahead of the European Football Championship which was co-hosted by Austria and Switzerland in 2008. Work was preliminarily stopped for months after business magazine profil claimed overall costs could double to around 900 million Euros. The construction of Skylink recently restarted. Flughafen Wien AG boss Christoph Herbst announced costs will not rise beyond 800 million Euros.The issue is widely considered as one of the biggest business scandals of the country regardless of whether prosecutors’ activities will result in legal action. Delays and soaring costs also upped the pressure of political decision-makers in Vienna and the province of Lower Austria as both provinces hold a 20 per cent stake in Flughafen Wien AG. The firm is quoted on the Vienna Stock Exchange (WBAG) where one share cost 41.88 Euros at 3pm today.VIA registered 1.565 million passengers last month, up by nearly five per cent compared to March 2010. The airport recorded 19.69 million passengers between January and December of last year. Officials said they wanted to achieve a five per cent increase this year.