ECONOMY

Abolish special airport levy, says tourist sector

Business leaders from tourism-related sectors yesterday called for the urgent abolition of the special blanket levy imposed on air fares 10 years ago for the building of the new Athens airport at Spata, the so-called Spatosimo. The transfer of the airport to Spata has had an uneven burden on the cost of air transport, particularly at home. This burden amounts to as much as 40 percent on many routes. The recent tragic events which have had a global impact on air transport… will have a direct influence on tourism and our economy, they said in a letter to the ministers of national economy, Yiannos Papantoniou, of development, Nikos Christodoulakis, and of transport and communications, Christos Verelis. The signatories include the chairmen of the associations of travel agents, hoteliers, coastal shipowners, air carriers, airline representatives, car rental businesses and the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV), Lefteris Antonakopoulos. They stressed the need for the immediate abolition of the disastrous and now useless levy in order to lessen the economic burden on passengers and costs for companies, thus bolstering business, and pointed out the danger of the loss of many jobs in the tourism industry generally. Domestic burden In an interview with Kathimerini English Edition last week, Matthias Mitscherlich, CEO of Athens International Airport which opened in March, denied suggestions that the levy had scared off international travelers. He said that the additional cost for European Union passengers, who account for 90 percent of incoming tourists, was only 3 euros and that the burden is greater on domestic travelers who, however, benefit from some of the cheapest fares in the EU. He acknowledged, however, that the new Athens airport expects to see a 20- to 25-percent drop in passenger traffic in the last quarter of the year as a result of the current crisis.