Reviving Air Travel Key to Greek Tourism Restart
Key to getting Greek tourism back in motion is resolving the issue of air transport, according to Government Spokesman Stelios Petsas, who said that the measures for gradual return to pre-coronavirus (Covid-19) reality will be announced this week.
“The biggest problem is air travel,” he said adding that the European Commission is expected to issue an EU-wide decision that will determine the next steps for the tourism industry.
“The key to normalization is transportation, especially with regard to air travel,” Petsas said.
At the same time, Transport Minister Kostas Karamanlis underlined the importance of getting planes off the ground and finding ways to ensure safe travel so that Greece can re-open to tourism.
In this direction, he said Greek authorities were in continued contact with aviation experts expecting the decisions of a transport ministers’ meeting on Wednesday.
Karamanlis said many proposals have already been tabled, including traveling with health certificates or even conducting on-the-spot tests at entry points.
“We want to ensure there is a balance between free movement and public health,” the minister said, adding that “Greece was one step ahead of the rest of Europe and very quickly shut down airports and flights from countries that were facing problems”.
Karamanlis said that Greece would be making an effort on an EU level to reach a common ground on the issue but will despite the outcome be prepared for the next day.
Meanwhile, Dinos Frantzeskakis, a board member of the Hellenic Association of Airline Representatives (SAAE), estimates that it will take two years for air transport to return to regular activity.
In an interview to metaforespress.gr, Frantzeskakis, who is also general manager at Discover the World, said he expects air traffic to Greece to drop to a third of 2019 levels and up to 12 percent – the best scenario – of tourism-related revenue.
Frantzeskakis added that travel may become an exclusive product for the few, as was common in the 70s-80s, as a result of airline companies being forced to increase fares to deal with the losses incurred during the Covid-19 pandemic.