The Greek Shipping Ministry recently announced that it had given the green light to two coastal ferry companies to operate certain routes to the Greek islands.
The committee also approved the Fast Ferries’ Piraeus-Naxos-Santorini-Anafi-Thirasia route by the company’s highspeed vessel “Thunder”.
Still pending are the route hours and whether the “Thunder” will include Mykonos on its itinerary.
Over the last few months, Greek coastal ferry operators have been at loggerheads over the routes, most of which begin in spring and are awarded by the shipping ministry.
Island authorities have expressed concern over the shipping ministry’s decision to disapprove a number of routes that had already been approved by the SAS, adding that this may disrupt transportation services to and from the islands.
According to Greek daily Naftemporiki, one of the issues creating discord is the approval by the council for “Thunder” to serve the Thira-Naxos-Mykonos-Piraeus route, but not by the ministry.
Golden Star Ferries said in a statement that it had been informed at the last minute by the shipping ministry that the company’s request for the modification of routes with regards to an Iraklio-Santorini itinerary had not been accepted, despite the unanimous approval of SAS, which, Golden Star Ferries claims is “monopolistic… serving the interests of our competitors”.
Citing the delays by the ministry, Golden Star Ferries said in a statement that it was considering pulling out of Greek coastal shipping all together, adding that this would lead to the loss of 400 jobs. The company also said it was considering seeking damages for the delays.
In the meantime, Shipping Minister Yiannis Plakiotakis is planning to revise an omnibus bill regulating the sector by the end of the month. According to media reports, the bill and relevant regulations are vague and unclear leaving leeway for confusion.
In relevant news, it should be reminded that earlier this month, Greek ferry operators increased fares by 6 percent citing higher fuel costs due to the implementation of IMO 2020, the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) low sulphur regulation.