LAST UPDATE: 17:55
By Fotis Fotinos
Ryanair is proceeding with its decision to close the winter base of “El. Venizelos” airport, with the release of 2 aircraft.
The company, which is asking for more attractive fees and incentives for the winter season, will operate only 10 out of 29 routes in Athens, reducing the available capacity by almost 60%.
The Irish company, closing its Athens base from October 29 until the end of March, argues that Athens Airport and Fraport Greece do not offer strong incentives to boost passenger traffic in the winter season and to develop off-peak tourism .
“At a time when other governments and airports are reducing fees and introducing tourism recovery programs, the Greek government continues to apply high fees, making Greek access fees uncompetitive,” the company’s CEO, Eddie Wilson, told Capital.gr .
“While this winter we will grow in Portugal by 21%, in Italy by 19% and in Spain by 17%, in Greece the capacity on offer will be reduced by 40%,” commented Mr Wilson, arguing that Ryanair, although it had submitted several proposals to the Greek government, from November 2021, in which it is committed to doubling passenger traffic over a period of 5 years, to 10 million passengers per year, however, it did not receive any response.
“Greece is a wonderful and top travel destination, with excellent performance in the summer, as a result of which many airports are saturated and there is a lack of slots. However, for the development of the winter season, it is considered necessary, among other things, to adopt incentives so that the Greece and Athens not to be a seasonal destination,” commented Mr. Wilson.
“Ryanair is growing significantly in Europe. With more than 150 new aircraft deliveries over the next 4 years, it is in a position to deliver rapid passenger growth, improving the connectivity and accessibility needed to boost the Greek tourism market throughout year”, added the CEO of the company.
Ryanair reduces by 40% the available capacity in Greece in winter
As mentioned above, in the winter period Ryanair will operate 10 routes from Athens, which will be to Dublin, London, Brussels, Milan, Bologna, Rome (Fiumicino), Budapest, Katowice, Vienna and Malta, no longer parking any aircraft in “El. Venizelos” airport compared to 2 last year and 4 in 2019.
Also, the company will run routes to and from Chania and to and from Thessaloniki, which it maintains as a base.
In summary, executives of the Irish company, which is estimated to hold the 3rd place in Greece in terms of market share (7%), behind AEGEAN (38%) and SKY express (15%), emphasized that, while other European airports and governments in Portugal, Croatia and Ireland have reduced air charges and successfully implemented tourism recovery programs in the winter season, Athens airport and in general, the Greek government maintained non-competitive airport charges.
“The Greek government must address the seasonality of its tourism product, as the Greek islands lack connectivity during the winter (-45% compared to the summer). In fact, tour operators represent less than 5% of the winter traffic of Greek airports, so the loss of capacity of Europe’s largest airline is detrimental to the Greek economy,” they said indicatively.
The ministry’s response
A specific plan is being processed, which is part of the broader strategy for strengthening winter tourism and extending the tourist season in our country. This is emphasized by sources from the Ministry of Tourism on the occasion of Ryanair’s decision to close its base in Athens in the winter season, the APE-MPE reports in its telegram.
This plan, which will be presented in the next period, includes, among other things, the provision of incentives to airlines and tour operators who are interested in continuing their activity in Greece after October.
For this purpose, after all, from the beginning of next week, the Minister of Tourism, Vassilis Kikilias, will make a series of targeted visits to European capitals to expand cooperation with international players in the tourism sector. As the same sources emphasize, the Ministry of Tourism promotes from the first moment the partnership of the public and private sectors for proposals and initiatives with a purely developmental sign that create new jobs and further upgrade the tourism product of our country. And the results are already visible from the excellent performance of this year’s tourist season.
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