By Eleftheria Pantziou
More specifically, in response to a significant three-year airport charges reduction for new routes at Athens International Airport, the airline will include 13 new routes from Athens to destinations in Poland, Germany, Lithuania, Denmark and Finland (Baden-Baden, Billund, Frankfurt, Gdansk, Katowice, Krakow, Lappeenranta, Lodz, Memmingen, Poznan, Rzeszow, Vilnius and Wroclaw).
The company is also planning to add a fifth aircraft to its base in Athens, an investment of $100 million. “Ryanair’s Athens network will include a total of 31 routes to 14 countries and will deliver 3 million customers through Athens Airport next year,” the carrier’s chief commercial officer, David O’Brien, said during a press conference in the Greek capital on Wednesday.
The 2018 summer schedule will also include five new routes from/to Thessaloniki and additional routes from/to Mykonos, Corfu, Kefalonia and Santorini.
Flight Cuts in Greece Due to High Airport Costs
Ryanair recently cancelled some 18,000 flights for this winter globally. In Greece, the airline cut its winter routes by 30 percent, decreasing its presence in Athens (-34 percent), Thessaloniki (-43 percent) and Rhodes (-6 percent) and totally axing its connections to and from Chania and Mykonos (-100 percent).
“We are cutting back in the winter and growing in the summer,” O’Brien said, adding that the company reduced its winter presence in Greece due to high airport costs.
The company’s decision to stop flights to/from Chania this winter has raised concerns among local tourism officials, regarding the impact on the labor market and tourism. O’Brien said the local community should contact the airport’s administration – Fraport Greece – to resolve the issue.
Thessaloniki Runway Uncertainty
O’Brien also referred to the absence of confirmed runway availability at the airport in Thessaloniki. “Nobody seems to know what is happening with the Thessaloniki runway… so we have to be very cautious about what we are doing in Thessaloniki,” he told reporters, adding that Ryanair has sent several letters to the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority and the Ministers of Transport and Tourism without getting any reply so far.
Another problem according to O’Brien is the increase of airport costs, which in the case of the Thessaloniki airport, run by Fraport Greece, have gone up by 18 percent. “The airports haven’t gotten any better; they just got more expensive,” O’ Brien said.
To celebrate the launch of the 2018 summer program, Ryanair has released a seats sale at low prices, which can be found on its website.