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Ryanair to Close Base at Athens Airport for Winter

Photo source: HRADF

Low-cost carrier Ryanair has announced plans to stop serving Greece’s largest and busiest airport for the winter season.

In an announcement on Thursday, the budget airline said it would close its Athens base on October 29 for the winter season, highlighting that the airport charging structure in Greece is “dysfunctional” as it rewards German airport operators “who control a vital part of Greek national infrastructure to the detriment of economic growth” in tourism and connectivity.

“Athens Airport is a prime example of how the Greek government and German high-cost ownership is failing to deliver for Greece’s people and economy,” Ryanair’s CEO, Eddie Wilson, said.

According to Ryanair, Athens Airport along with other Greek airports, managed by “German monopoly” Fraport offer no incentive to stimulate traffic in the winter season or to grow off peak tourism and connections to Athens, which should be a thriving year-round destination.

“Regrettably for Greek citizens, the decision to sell most of the Greek airports to high cost German operators has had a devastating impact on job creation as these foreign airport operators have a stranglehold on the Greek economy by restricting the flow of tourists and business connections and have no interest in lowering prices to stimulate traffic,” Wilson said.

Greek gov’t is ‘unresponsive’ to growth plans

Ryanair’s CEO added that the Greek government has “inexplicably” failed to respond to Ryanair’s ambitious growth plans for a much-needed tourism recovery scheme to lower its uncompetitive airport charges and assist traffic recovery post-Covid, as Croatia, Ireland, Portugal and others have already done.

The airline highlights said that instead of lowering charges and introducing tourism recovery schemes like other countries, the Greek government continues to apply a “penal airport development tax” of 12 euros per passenger, making Greek access charges uncompetitive.

“We again ask Minister for Tourism, Vassilis Kikilias, to reply to our written growth proposals in which we offer to transform Greece’s tourism market over the next 5 years by doubling traffic to 10m passengers p.a., bolstering off-peak tourism, creating 4,000 local jobs, and supporting much-needed regional development,” Ryanair’s CEO said.

Ryanair has claimed to have submitted several growth proposals to the Greek government since November 2021 that would “completely transform” Greek tourism over the next 5 years.

“This failure of engagement by the Greek government has already led to Ryanair’s closure of our Rhodes base this summer and has now forced us to close our Athens base this October and reallocate this capacity to lower cost competing destinations, such as Italy, Spain Cyprus and Portugal,” he added.

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  1. MICHAEL THOMPSON Reply

    35 years in Greece seen the EU destroy Greece Having to sell Assets to GERMANY AND other Eu COUNTRYS on the cheap
    the EU Are Gangsters, poor greece

  2. Flappy Reply

    Knock airport charges €10 euro airport development tax and has fine for years ! They haven’t stopped flying there

  3. George Mouratidis Reply

    Unfortunate move

  4. Koos Burgman Reply

    Perhaps Athens airport have chosen to be more in line with a sustainable operation? A growth to 10 m. passengers p.a. in the coming 5 years, how does that look like in relation to pollution and sustainability. We all have to accept less number of flights p.a. and higher ticket fares to contribute to save the world! Stop with city flights for € 25,00!

  5. Anna Reply

    In order to accommodate double the visitors the airport needs infrastructural development, I can see why the hesitation as it needs massive investment and the airport at it’s current size is already malfunctioning in the summer months.

  6. M. Savaidis Reply

    Not surprised at all. There is no vision in its entity. The Tourism ministry is a stepping stone for a career in politics. Yet to have a minister who has knowledge of the Tourism Industry, transportation, hotels, can read the trends and tendencies, seasonality and recognize the opportunity when they see one. The entire industry lays in the hands of the private sector. The Greek-end so proudly advertised in the near past and so appropriate for the winter months will be materialized by airlines of…whose choice??.. Or maybe ΟΣΕ Interail? whatever the obstacles this time we need to overcome them. No offense Mr Kikilias.

  7. Andrew Slater Reply

    Many countries are looking to attract higher spending tourists, so removing budget airlines like this could be a good move?

    • Rob Hoddinott Reply

      So a customer arriving on a British Airways flight is a bigger spender than on RyanAir?

  8. R Ferguson Reply

    Ryan Air did this in Belfast, told Belfast City airport if they did not extend the runway they would leave, Belfast refused Ryan Air left. They also left the International Airport over charges.

  9. Jeremy Charles Reply

    The airport charges could be on a sliding scale . First million passengers that Ryanair brings say 12 euros.. next million 11 euros , next million 10 euros etc ..
    FRAport earns more income . Ryanair brings more tourists .

  10. Gary Holmes Reply

    The German monopoly is the issue.

  11. Diana Giannouli Reply

    Unfortunately successive Greek governments have always been brain dead when it comes to travel/tourism markets. They have never understood the need to help and service the industry – how they hope to keep increasing visitor figures is completely beyond me, and is can they possibly say they hope to ‘extend’ the season into earlier and later months is totally ridiculous when they won’t support operators and flights even to/from Athens, let alone regional airports in destinations like Corfu/Crete who are more than qualified to establish lucrative off peak travel. 40 years in the travel business in Greece, and I still despair!

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