Air traffic through Athens International Airport (AIA) is quickly approaching pre-Covid-19 levels with Greece expecting tourists into December, said Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias during the “Aviation-Event 2022 ATH” held in Athens.
“We are particularly pleased to see that tourist arrivals to Greece started very early this year and indicate that there will be a particular momentum until the end of November and the beginning of December,” he said, adding that the ministry had taken actions to increase the number of flights from the US and is now in similar negotiations with airlines in India, South Korea and in Latin American countries.
Kikilias went on to add that ministry efforts to extend the tourism season and introduce lesser-known destinations were paying off and that arrivals were fast on track to full recovery even without the markets of Russia, China and Ukraine.
“The signs so far are very positive. According to the most recent data, in June, traffic through Eleftherios Venizelos Airport recouped nearly 94 percent of May 2019 levels and flights at 97 percent,” he said.
According to the latest data, AIA handled 2.05 million passengers in May 2022 down by 10.2 percent over 2019 levels for the same month.
Kikilias added that most of the country’s airports were also seeing an upturn in traffic. He referred to Greece’s 14 regional airports run by Fraport, which according to Bank of Greece data for April are up by 7.7 percent over 2019 with May set to achieve good numbers also, he said.
The minister went on to add that Europe should be prepared to deal with pandemic disruption created in the air transport industry, which was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic but also one of the fastest recovering.
Lastly, he referred to the EU’s “Fit for 55” plan – a set of proposals to address climate change and guidelines on how EU member states can meet a collective 2030 target of slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent – which he said entails a “risk”.
“The transition to a sustainable economy and actions for green development are an absolute priority,” said Kikilias, adding however that the imposition of environmental fees on intra-EU flights should not be at the expense of European citizens.
“The Commission’s initial proposals entail a serious risk for the aviation industry in Europe – and therefore for the European tourism product – as these foresee an increase in costs for travelers thus creating a significant ‘advantage’ for airlines and tourist destinations outside the European Union, who will not be bound by these rules,” he said, adding that these factors should be taken seriously into consideration before any final decisions are issued.