Low-cost airline Ryanair announced on Wednesday that it is scaling down its domestic flight schedule in Greece and closing its hub in Hania, Crete, citing high airport charges.
In a company announcement, the carrier said all domestic flights will be cancelled as of June 1, with the exception of its summer services from Athens and Thessaloniki to Mykonos and Santorini. It also said that it will transfer two aircraft from Athens and Hania to its bases in Germany, where it is expanding service.
The closure of Ryanair's hub in Hania will result in the cancellation of four connections to and from the Cretan city to Katowice in Poland, Memmingen in Germany, Venice's Treviso and Vilnius.
"Regrettably, current airport charges at the majority of Greek airports encourage peak-only services in the summer on international routes which require less aircraft based in Greece," Ryanair Sales and Marketing Manager for the Eastern Mediterranean Nikolaos Lardis said.
"Therefore, the two aircraft will be transferred from Greece to Germany where they can achieve superior utilization on a year-round basis," he added.
The company said it remained open to discussions with the competent airport operators to develop growth schemes that would justify and sustain year-round services and additional aircraft permanently based at Greek airports.
Responding to the decision, Fraport Greece, which manages 14 regional airports in the country including Hania, said it respects Ryanair's decision and still considers the company a "strategic partner" as it operates in nine out of its 14 airports.
"Ryanair's decision to restrict its flight operations in the domestic market is a business decision. Fraport Greece respects Ryanair's operational needs and choices and, in any case, continues to be a strategic partner in nine out of 14 airports, with a significant market share and strong growth in international destinations in recent years," said George Vilos, executive director of commercial and business development at Fraport Greece.