Greek carrier Bluebird Airways has declared it is ready to resume Greece’s air link with Israel from early July, if authorities allow it. It intends to link its Iraklio hub, as well as Rhodes, Kos, Mykonos and Thessaloniki, with Tel Aviv, in the context of a bilateral state agreement currently being prepared between the two countries.
Last year Bluebird brought 200,000 Israeli passengers to Greece and this year it could top that figure based on the bilateral agreement on tourism. Israel’s discussions with Greece on this matter are at an advanced stage as the Israeli government views it as the only country where Israelis can safely travel for holidays this year thanks to its very positive response to the coronavirus.
Tel Aviv’s objective is to see 1 million Israelis visit Greece this year, up from 700,000 in 2019. There also are ongoing talks between airport operators in the two countries, as it is becoming gradually clear around the world that departure airports will conduct health checks on travelers.
The issue was on the agenda of Thursday’s conference call between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his opposite numbers in seven other states that have successfully dealt with the first wave of the coronavirus (Smart Covid Management Group), including his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu.
In this context, Bluebird Chairman Vassilis Tassis is hoping this year will not be a complete loss for his company, in which Israeli interests have also invested. “Putting the difficulties we face aside, we have decided to announce the restarting as of July 1 of flights from Tel Aviv to Greek islands for the summer season, as we believe we can make the most of the good record of the two countries in tackling the pandemic,” he stated.
Bluebird’s main goal is to increase incoming tourism to Greece and the expansion of its penetration of foreign markets. This is clearly reflected in its latest corporate data, which show that passengers aboard its four aircraft last year were foreigners, mainly from Israel, who stayed at hotels on the islands of Crete, Kos and Rhodes.