Greek Shipping Minister Yiannis Plakiotakis on Sunday said he was examining the possibility of reducing Greece’s ferry schedule frequency due to declining demand after the government banned travel to the islands to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
“The transport of products and goods is regular. We are planning to maintain ferry links, but we are also considering the possibility of reducing frequency… We are on the alert. If stricter measures are taken, we will be ready to implement them,” Plakiotakis told MEGA channel.
In a letter to the minister and following last week’s decision to allow travel to the islands only to permanent residents, the Greek Shipowners Association for Passenger Ships (SEEN), representing ferry operators, is calling for retroactive financial support (from 21 March 2020) in order to keep ferry companies above water.
SEEN is stressing that the decline in passenger as well as in supplier traffic will have serious repercussions on coastal ferry operators who will be unable to meet their operating and services costs.
According to the association, bookings for the spring and Easter periods are almost “non-existent”. In addition, SEEN goes on to note that the decline in passenger traffic for the summer period, which accounts for 60 percent of all annual revenue, will force ferry operators to cut itineraries.
SEEN stresses the importance of keeping all itineraries in place “for the survival of our islands, but there are also many serious national reasons why the necessary itineraries should be maintained”.
The association is also calling on the minister to push forward legislation that foresees the temporary exemption of ferry companies from compulsory crew employment as well as for the extension of the winter season.