Greece banks on bumper summer as airlines vie to add flights

Famous windmills of Mykonos 1486x1486

Greece is gearing up for a tourist season almost back to pre-Covid levels as airlines pile on flights and people starved for travel shrug off inflation and other deterrents, Bloomberg reports.

Demand is resilient in Britain and Germany, the largest source markets for visits to Greece, while the Nordic nations will produce significant traffic, Tourism Minister Vasilis Kikilias said in an interview in Athens.

British Airways, Ryanair Holdings Plc, EasyJet Plc, and Jet2 Plc are seeking more flights than in 2019 when tourist numbers reached a record 31 million, and Air France and its Transavia arm will have a strong presence, Kikilias said.

There’s also an influx of long-haul travellers. The big three U.S. airlines carry around 3,000 people a week from Atlanta, Chicago, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, many bound for Greek cruise ships. Direct flights from Canada begin April 2 and visits from Australia are seen reaching a record, while Qatar Airways is seeking flights to islands such as Mykonos and Santorini.

“A real contest is taking place for airlines to find slots at Greek airports, as much as for the islands as for Athens,” Kikilias noted.

Tourism accounted for a fifth of the Greek economy before Covid-19 upended travel. Revenue from visiting holidaymakers last year reached 60% of 2019’s 18 billion euros ($20 billion). The government estimated the rebound could hit 80% this year in a forecast issued just before Russia’s attack on Ukraine.