Foreign leisure airlines increase flights to regional airports

Greek regional airports are preparing for increased traffic in leisure flights this year, as a significant part of the cheaper end of the airline industry is bypassing Athens International Airport and its high charges.

Besides the 11 leisure airlines – many of them of the low-cost variety – that fly to the country’s main airport, there is a growing number of leisure companies that are flying to airports at popular tourism destinations on the back of the rising demand for Greek holidays.

Swiss carrier Helvetic Airways, which runs scheduled flights for national airline Swiss as well as charter flights around the continent, has started cooperating with tour operator Kuoni, aiming at new flights to the Greek islands. The airline will operate charter flights to Greece this summer promoting Kuoni packages, flying to Myconos, Kos, Santorini, Iraklio, Zakynthos and Corfu.

Dutch airline Transavia is launching its new service linking Amsterdam with Kythira, while restoring Kalamata to its flight schedule. It has flights every Monday through October 7. Since April 25 it has also been operating a twice-weekly link between Eindhoven and Kos and has restored the service from Rotterdam to Rhodes, also twice a week.

Wednesday sees the start of a weekly service by Germania linking Bremen with Iraklio, while on June 25 the German carrier will start weekly flights from Erfurt to Corfu, until September 24.

On May 23, Condor, the leisure airline of tour operator Thomas Cook AG, will start to fly from Munich to Skiathos every week through October 3. While the airline is reducing its weekly flights for Duesseldorf to Kos from two to one and abolishing flights from Paderborn to Rhodes, it has increased weekly flights from Frankfurt to Hania from one to two and raised from three to four its weekly services from Stuttgart to Iraklio.

Notably a carrier that is not on the leisure side of the market, Austrian Airlines, has added to its regular services from Vienna to Athens and Thessaloniki the flights from Graz to Santorini, from Linz to Kos and from Vienna to Chios, Mytilene and Patra.