Shipping firms balk at set fares

Passenger shipping companies consider the recent increases in economy-class fares by the Economy and Finance Ministry as woefully inadequate. In contrast to recently liberalized first-class fares, economy-class fares are still state-regulated. Greek shippers say that comparative prices abroad are far higher and point out that the quality of service in economy class has improved dramatically in recent years as new ships have been commissioned. Gerasimos Strintzis, head of the Blue Star Ferries company, yesterday presented comparative fares from Greek and Italian ferry routes of roughly equal length. In Italy, for example, the economy-class fare for the Naples-Palermo route (167 nautical miles) is 38.40 euros; in Greece, the fare for the Piraeus-Rethymnon route (161 miles) is 23.31 euros, that is, 39.55 percent lower. Other routes show even greater disparities. Strintzis said the State could abolish charges in favor of third parties which are included in ticket prices and do away with mandatory discounts. He favored each company setting its own prices. «We could offer different prices for weekday and weekend routes and discounts to frequent travelers,» he said.

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