ECONOMY

Ferry operators look to cover lost ground

?This Easter, the only people that will travel will be those with a holiday home or those planning to stay with friends,? said a senior official from one of the bigger Greek ferry companies as he glanced over a list of passenger traffic numbers for the Easter break.

Ferry companies reported losses of more than 300 million euros in 2010 due to rising petrol prices and reduced demand for passenger and vehicle transportation services. They are hoping to make up some of the lost ground on this holiday.

Initial figures indicate that demand levels will fluctuate this Easter, depending on the destination.

?Last year we did not do well, as passenger numbers dipped 14 percent from 2009 — Easter was early and the weather did not help,? one ferry shipping source told Kathimerini.

?This year, despite the crisis, we expect that things will be a little better since Easter is later in the month and the weather is expected to be fine.?

For certain islands, passenger numbers are expected to remain steady, while for others, a drop is on the cards. However, on islands such as Crete, ferry operators expect an increase in passenger numbers.

Compared to last year, travelers this Easter will be called on to pay an 8 to 15 percent hike in ticket prices.

Additionally, companies will not be providing discounts, with the exception of ANEK, which plans to cut prices by 25 percent for morning routes between Piraeus and Hania, Crete.

As of the start of April, ferry companies have bumped up ticket prices in order to cover rising fuel prices, which account for up to 60 percent of operating costs. Additionally, the price hike will help offset a dip in revenues arising from a 7 percent drop in passenger and vehicle tickets toward the majority of destinations since the start of the year.