It looks like the average flyer believes that the smaller airlines are safer than the big named companies. September’s passenger load factor figures were down for Greece’s largest airline, state-owned Olympic Airways, as well as major international carriers out of Athens, but Greece’s private airline companies have taken up the slack.
Stavros Daliakas, Aegean/Cronus’s commercial director, says that in September about 41,000 passengers bought tickets to European destinations with the airline, up by 1,000 from the same month last year. And an Axon Airlines spokesperson says its three foreign destinations attracted 19,000 passengers from Greece in September, compared with 15,300 last year.
However, the airline believes the smaller carriers will begin to feel the crunch during the winter months, when package tours tail off. Airline specialists foresee a major change in the sector over the next 12 months with many regional and major carriers being closed, sold off or absorbed.
Meanwhile, according to available data, there were 12 percent fewer passengers on Olympic Airways’ international flights in September compared with the same month last year, while its flights to the USA carried 18 percent fewer passengers and those to Canada 7 percent fewer. (Olympic will reportedly take 40 domestic flights and 30 international flights off its winter program at the end of the month.)
Air France says flights from Athens to the USA and Canada via Paris dropped between 12-15 percent in September, and the crisis is expected to last until January.
British Airways says its flights from Athens are down by 9 percent, which is also about the reduction in capacity decided on by the airline.
According to the International Air Transport Association, air traffic generally is expected to drop by 35 percent over the next three months. Many airlines have already announced flight reductions and staff cuts. It is the smaller airlines, such as Belgium’s Sabena, Portugal’s TAP, Finland’s Finnair, and Greece’s Olympic Airways that will suffer most, say specialists.