Ryanair in summer 2019 will operate over 300 weekly flights in Greece – bookable now – and there will more to come, according to Nikolas Lardis, Ryanair’s sales and marketing manager for the Eastern Mediterranean.
While the complete Summer 2019 schedule for Greece is expected to be announced soon, Lardis told GTP Headlines that travelers can already start planning their next summer holidays as over 80 routes are on sale from Greek destinations.
“Ryanair has carried in Greece more than 27 million passengers since 2010,” he said, adding that his priority is to boost the passenger traffic of all routes in the country.
“For the financial year of 2019 (April ‘18 – March ‘19) we will grow our capacity (in Greece) by 14 percent to 5.7 million airline seats,” Lardis said.
Underlining the company’s aim to increase routes to “great destinations” at the lowest fairs, he said that Greece and its airports can develop as year-round tourism destinations if lower airport charges are charged during the low season.
“We are always interested in new routes in destinations where airport costs allow us to expand,” Lardis said.
Lardis was appointed to his position in the Ryanair family in January 2018 following years of working in leading travel and tourism companies, including Airbnb in Ireland and Booking.com.
In his recent interview with GTP Headlines, Lardis talks about crossing fields from the hospitality to the airline industry and also talks about Ryanair’s presence in the Greek market.
GTP: Your previous positions prior to becoming Ryanair’s sales and marketing manager for the East Med centered on hospitality. How challenging is the transition from the hospitality to the airline industry?
Nikolas Lardis: The tourism industry has many exciting faces and opportunities. It is highly attractive and satisfying to be able to cross fields within the same market and manage the same product from a different aspect. To be more specific, airline seats sales face the same restrictions and opportunities with hotel rooms. Both products must be bought in advance and consumed at a later stage. If the service is not booked or consumed when available or planned, the opportunity is lost. It is crucial that marketing efforts are executed on time to assure that performance meets targets.
GTP: What are your priorities in your new role? What are your responsibilities regarding the Greek market?
Nikolas Lardis: Increasing the passenger traffic of all routes in Greece is my main priority. While Ryanair is rapidly growing in the Greek, Cypriot and Maltese markets, it is also expanding its operations in Jordan and Turkey. We aim to increase routes to great destinations at the lowest fares.
Nikolas Lardis: Ryanair has invested more than 400 million euros in Athens, by basing 4 Boeing 737-800 aircraft there, creating 120 direct jobs and 2.250 indirect jobs. Our Athens Winter schedule offers 27 routes with 178 flights per week, including six exciting new routes to Aqaba in Jordan, Marrakech in Morroco, Dublin in Ireland, Catania and Palermo in Italy, Eindhoven in the Netherlands and a brand-new route to London Luton.
GTP: What are Ryanair’s strategies for 2019 concerning Greece? What should we expect from the Summer 2019 schedule for Greece?
Nikolas Lardis: We will be announcing the complete Summer 2019 schedule for Greece shortly. Our customers can already start planning their 2019 summer vacations as over 80 routes are on sale from Athens, Thessaloniki, Corfu, Chania, Rhodes, Kefalonia, Mykonos and Santorini, with over 300 weekly flights and more to come.
Nikolas Lardis: This winter Chania is connected with Thessaloniki four times per week and Paphos twice per week. We are always interested in new routes, where the airport costs allow us to expand. We have started flights to Heraklion this summer. Ryanair doesn’t currently fly to/from Kos (KGS), however flights are available to/from Kos with aviation partner Laudamotion.
GTP: Regarding the 14 Greek regional airports that are managed by Fraport Greece, has Ryanair requested a reduction in airport fees and rates in order to boost activity in these destinations? In general, how is Ryanair’s cooperation with Fraport Greece?
Nikolas Lardis: We work closely with Fraport Greece at 8 out of 11 airports we operate to in Greece, including Laudamotion operations. Ryanair believes that lower airport charges (to all airlines) should be charged during the low season to stimulate demand at off-peak times and help develop Greece and its airports as year-round tourist destinations.
GTP: What milestones has Ryanair achieved so far since it began flights to Greek destinations?
Nikolas Lardis: Ryanair has carried in Greece more than 27 million passengers since 2010. For the financial year of 2019 (April ‘18 – March ‘19) we will grow our capacity by 14 percent to 5.7 million airline seats.
In Athens International Airport we have carried more than 11 million passengers since 2014.
In Thessaloniki, more than 8m passengers chose to fly with Ryanair since 2011.
In Chania we have carried more than 5 million passengers since 2011.
GTP: Are there any updates regarding Ryanair’s “Always Getting Better” program? What message would Ryanair like to pass on to our readers?
Nikolas Lardis: Earlier this year we announced our environmental plan that includes our commitment to eliminate all non-recyclable plastics from our operations over the next five years. Ryanair is already Europe’s greenest, cleanest airline and with this new policy document, we will increase our environmental lead over our competitors.
We have also unveiled “Try Somewhere New”, a unique travel hub on the Ryanair website, hosting exclusive travel guides and destination videos in seven languages.
Our most recent marketing campaign for Eastern Mediterranean includes an amazing short video promoting Jordan, in collaboration with Jordan’s Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities.
At this point I must add that we are actively planning further short videos to promote Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean market.