Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias invited Emirates Airline to examine the possibility of launching direct flights from Dubai and New York to Thessaloniki’s Makedonia Airport.
The minister made the request during a commemorative event held this week marking the five-year anniversary of direct flights from Athens to New York.
Referring to the possibility of linking New York and Dubai with Thessaloniki, Kikilias said the potential was great as it would contribute to establishing the northern port city into a hub for the Balkans.
“Residents of Balkan countries prefer to travel abroad through Thessaloniki. Makedonia Airport has been significantly upgraded. Investments in the hotel industry are ongoing. The city’s port is connected to the airport for check-in and for the transportation of travelers’ luggage, while cruise travel, particularly for the port of Thessaloniki, is up by 250 percent this year, which demonstrates the city’s dynamics,” said Kikilias.
Last year, Dubai-based Emirates Airline celebrated 25 years since its first flight to Greece. In that time, more than 4.5 million passengers have flown on 15,000 Emirates flights between Athens and Dubai.
The minister went on to praise Emirates for its contribution not only to Greece’s tourism sector but to the facilitation of trade and transport through the operation of its year-round Athens-New York route.
“Following a 10-year crisis, Greece has now turned a page and is looking to the future with confidence. Our country is consistently gaining the vote of confidence from international investors, significantly improving its infrastructure, and giving new momentum to the development of the national economy,” said Kikilias.
He added that the level of bilateral ties between Greece and the United Arab Emirates was exceptional.
“You chose to show faith in the Greek economy at a time when everyone else was reluctant to restart the daily direct Athens-New York connection. The decision paid off,” said Kikilias, adding that the decision of three US airlines to operate a total of 63 direct flights a week from the US to Athens Airport translates into half a million travelers directly from the US , “without taking into account all of those who travel to Greece through intermediate destinations”.