Recent increases in the price of petrol pushed the world’s airlines into 10-15% increases in winter fares, but Olympic Airways seems to have gotten carried away and increased at least one of its winter fares – first-class one-way Athens-New York – by 54%.
Olympic says the increase was necessary not because of oil prices but because the one-way fare was too cheap compared with a one-way from New York to Athens. This led to Americans exploiting the low fare out of Athens by buying a one-way New York-Athens flight in the U.S. for $4426 and a one one-way Athens-New York in Greece for $1873. That gave them overall savings of $2553 on a return fare.
Spyros Ginis, president of the Greek Union of Air Travel Agencies, says the move by Olympic simply hurts the airline itself, and its reputation, since the Greek consumer is now forced to pay American prices for what is essentially a Greek product.
When global distribution system Worldspan’s Leonidas Zotos was asked if such a price hike was in line with the norm, he replied that it was the airline’s affair. “Airlines send their prices direct to our central data bank up to four times a day and we list them on our screen when a customer calls them up. There is no manual change in our listed fares.”
A call to the International Air Transport Association‘s offices in Geneva found a similar reply. “Airlines work in a liberalized, competitive environment and can charge whatever they feel the market can bear,” said an association official.