The reopening of Greek tourism and the strong demand for summer destinations are expected to positively affect arrivals at Athens International Airport (AIA) in the next months, the company’s executives estimate.
Greece will officially open to tourists in a few days with no quarantine requirement for vaccinated travelers or those with a negative PCR test.
“We see an upward trend as arrivals have reached 1 million since the beginning of May. We cannot say for sure if this is just the result of the Easter holidays traffic or an outcome of the partial ease of travel restrictions. We must wait and see,” AIA Senior Developer – Airline Development Leonidas Raftopoulos said during Alitalia’s webinar event on Tuesday.
Raftopoulos highlighted that there are many international airlines have not finalized their summer schedules as they are still exploring opportunities to expand their network. This also concerns major US airlines that have included Greek destinations to their 2021 summer services.
“We see strong demand for travel from the United States for this summer. There are many new services from United, American Airlines and Delta,” Raftopoulos said.
It is reminded that during his recent visit to the US, Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis met with representatives of the aforementioned airlines who informed that – based on bookings recorded so far – they expect direct flights to Greece to be “in great demand” in the coming months.
Delta Airlines will connect the US to Athens with three daily flights, from New York and Atlanta. American Airlines will launch flights to the Greek capital from New York, Chicago and Philadelphia and United Airlines will introduce a new Washington DC-Athens route in addition to its Newark-Athens connection.
People are eager to travel
Based on recent data, AIA expects its 2021 passenger traffic to reach 45 percent of the 2019 levels, Raftopoulos also informed.
The figure given by Raftopoulos is based on research conducted by the airport among its domestic and international passengers, who appear eager to travel in the next months.
According to AIA, 56 percent of the passengers surveyed are willing to travel within the next two months. The percentage is slightly higher among foreign residents (69 percent), compared to Greek residents (65 percent).
Of those surveyed, 56 percent are willing to travel in the next two months for business purposes, while a large number (60 percent) is looking forward to visiting friends and relatives.
Passenger traffic drops 71.7% between Jan-April
During the press event, Leonidas Raftopoulos also presented data on the airport’s performance during the previous months. As he said, global travel restrictions severely affected arrivals at Athens International Airport during the first four months of the year.
During the January – April period, the airport’s passenger traffic reached approximately 99,000, a decline of 71.7 percent compared to the same period in 2020 and 84.4 percent compared to 2019.
The volumes of domestic and international passengers decreased by 54.3 percent and 79.5 percent respectively, compared to 2020, and by 75.2 percent and 88.6 percent compared to the same period in 1019.
In April, the airport’s passenger traffic was below the respective 2019 levels by 84 percent. Both domestic and international passenger traffic were sharply reduced by 72.3 percent and 88.8 percent respectively compared to 2019.
Cancellations affect flights
During the first four months of 2021, Athens International Airport’s number of flights amounted to 24,140, which is 37.3 percent below the respective 2020 levels and 58.2 percent below the 2019 volumes, severely impacted by flight cancellations, due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Domestic flights reduced by 16.6 percent and international operations by 52.3 percent compared to 2020 levels, and by 43.6 percent and 58.2 percent respectively compared to the 2019 levels.