ECONOMY

Aegean aims for top spot

Aegean Airlines yesterday claimed to have a near 50 percent share of the domestic market, suggesting that good service and an increasing number of destinations offered could see the privately owned carrier soon overtake debt-laden national carrier Olympic Airways as the top airline in the country. Aegean said it flew a total of 1.24 million passengers in the first half of the year, up 18 percent, of which 915,000 passengers were on domestic flights, a 12 percent increase from the corresponding period last year. Citing IATA-BSP data, Aegean said the figures pointed to a 48 percent share of the domestic market, while in terms of sales made by travel agencies, it had 50 percent of domestic market revenues. It carried 327,000 passengers on regular and chartered flights to destinations abroad, marking a 38 percent increase. The carrier expects to more than double the total number of passengers to 2.8 million for the entire year and to increase the number of flights by 12 percent. The upbeat figures came as major airlines around the world reported a dramatic drop in passenger traffic due to the war in Iraq in March and the SARS outbreak. Key to Aegean’s ambitious targets has been its expanding network of routes. Milan and Munich will be added to the itinerary in winter. It is still waiting for approval from the Greek government for flights to Sofia, Belgrade, Istanbul, Cairo and Larnaca. The carrier is currently negotiating with Greek and foreign airlines on code-sharing. Aegean however could have its work cut out following the recent debut of low-cost airline Germanwings in Greece. The no-frills airline, 25 percent owned by German carrier Lufthansa, flies to the major German cities, which are also served by Aegean.