Athens International Airport (AIA) on Saturday welcomed a full flight from New York operated by Delta Air Lines, the first carrier to restart flights between the United States and Greece since the onset of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The first flight took off from New York International John F. Kennedy International Airport on May 28 and on Saturday morning landed at AIA where it was welcomed with the traditional water arch.
“After a year of limited international travel, Americans are actively seeking new adventures in 2021 and the mix of ancient sites and island resorts make Greece a popular choice,” said Roberto Ioriatti, Delta’s Senior Vice President – Transatlantic and Transpacific Pricing and revenue Management.
The flight marks a new start for Delta in Greece and also marks an important milestone for the Greek tourism industry, which is a vital part of the Greek economy. This summer, the airline will fly from its two largest U.S. hubs when Atlanta service joins New York-JFK in July.
“The direct connection of the airport, our city and our country with the United States of America starts today with Delta’s flight to and from New York-JFK and is a highly important development for our airport. We are also looking forward to the direct connection with Atlanta,” said Ioanna Papadopoulou, AIA’s Director, Communications & Marketing
Delta has a long history of serving Greece, having launched its first flight back in 1991.
Pre-pandemic, the United States was one of the largest source markets for tourism into Greece with more than 1.1 million visitors in 2019, according to data from Athens Airport. Research from the airport also indicates that American visitors spend an average of $1,200 each during a typical week’s stay.
According to Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis, the restart of Delta’s nonstop services is a testament and a vote of confidence on the comprehensiveness of the government’s plan to restart tourism and its focus on the safety of visitors.
“The high vaccination rate in the United States gives us the confidence to reopen our borders to one of our largest tourism source markets,” Theoharis said.
Delta will fly Airbus A330-300 aircraft to Athens. Customers from 46 U.S. cities can conveniently connect onto the Athens service at Delta’s JFK hub. Delta will operate 170 daily flights from New York-JFK this summer to 73 destinations.
US travelers to Greece will no longer be subject to quarantine requirements if they hold a vaccination certificate or negative PCR test issued up to 72 hours before arrival. Travelers returning to the U.S. will still require a negative COVID-19 test and can find a nearby location with Delta’s dedicated Travel Planning Center for international travel.
All services between the U.S. and Greece are operated in conjunction with partners Air France, KLM and Virgin Atlantic.
“The resumption of flights to Greece by U.S. airlines including Delta is an important step in enabling families to be together once again, for tourists to explore this beautiful country, and for businesses to renew their enduring investment ties on both sides of the Atlantic. These steps help to support the economic recovery that both President Biden and Prime Minister Mitsotakis have prioritized for the months ahead,” said U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt.