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Greece Opens to Aviation Tourism

Aviation tourism (private aircraft and aero sports) was one of the main topics on the agenda of the third scientific conference “Aviation – Present and Future,” which took place recently at the Hellenic Ministry of Transport and Communications.

Antonis Simigdalas, the chief operating officer of Aegean airlines and president of the European Regional Airlines Association, spoke of the major problems Greece’s general aviation faces, which have resulted in the country’s long-time deviation from the European mainstream. He stressed that general aviation in Greece is frail and overshadowed by that of the former Eastern Block countries. “Every year very few privately owned aircraft arrive in Greece, while other European or Mediterranean countries attract larger aviation traffic,” he pointed out.

Mr. Simigdalas stressed that the main reasons for Greece’s low aviation tourism are bureaucratic procedures, non-leasing of private aircraft and limited supply of the gasoline fuel necessary for aircraft.

Among Mr. Simigdalas’s suggestions for the growth of aviation tourism were the promotion of aero sports in Greece and the simplification of privately owned aircrafts’ take-off and landing procedures. He expressed his hope that Greece would soon regain lost ground as a result of the recent growth of aviation interest at Megara and the recent political interest in the sector.

Transport and Communications Minister Costis Hatzidakis had recently supported the idea of aviation tourism development. He had noted that general aviation is an area of great interest as in Europe there are currently 5,000 aircraft and 50,000 small and medium-sized aircraft associated with general aviation.

“Greece can use those aircraft in order to enhance the tourism flow to the country. For this reason the ministry works closely with the Civil Aviation Authority in order for our airports to provide the best possible services and facilities aiming towards the enhancement of our tourism,” Mr. Hatzidakis noted.

Also discussed at the conference was the creation of an aviation chamber mainly to act as a scientific-technical advisory body to the transport and communications ministry and especially as an independent adviser to the minister.

About the Author
Nikos is Greek-American born in New York, USA, and has lived in Greece for over 30 years. He is the managing editor of Greece's leading monthly travel and tourism guide, the Greek Travel Pages (GTP) since June 2008 and of news site GTP Headlines since its launch in September 2012. Nikos has also served as international press officer for the City of Athens and for the mayor. He has a degree in Mass Media and Communications, specializing in Journalism. Nikos is a native English speaker and speaks Greek fluently.

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