Passenger traffic falls 12 pct in 8 months at Athens International Airport

Passenger traffic at Athens International Airport SA dropped 12 percent in the first eight months of the year as Europe?s economic crisis continued to hurt spending on travel.

The number of people passing through the country?s biggest airport fell to 8.9 million in the eight months through Aug. 31 from 10.1 million in the same period a year earlier, according to a statement posted on the airport?s website. International passenger traffic declined 13 percent to 5.8 million and domestic travelers were down 8.7 percent to 3.1 million.

The drop is due to the ?negative impact? of Greece?s political and financial turmoil, the company said. In August, the number of people passing through the airport fell 11 percent to 1.5 million, with international traffic down to 1 million from 1.1 million in the same month last year.

Greece?s inconclusive elections in May and June raised concern the country would leave the euro. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras?s coalition government is now working to meet targets under two bailouts from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Tourism, Greece?s biggest industry, accounted for almost 16 percent of gross domestic product and one in five jobs in 2011, according to the London-based World Travel and Tourism Council. [Bloomberg]

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