ECONOMY

Airlines happy with Tourism Ministry’s health protocols

airlines-happy-with-tourism-ministry-amp-8217-s-health-protocols

The local airline industry considers the Tourism Ministry’s health protocols for this summer season to be feasible and realistic, after Minister Haris Theocharis recently presented the protocols’ main points at an online event.

Internationally, the sector’s focus is on whether social distancing will be deemed necessary during flights, which would lead to a drastic reduction in capacity and therefore the carriers’ returns. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said at a recent press conference that if the middle seats stay empty the airlines will find it very hard to recover, while ticket prices would soar.

The Tourism Ministry’s health protocols, which are about to become official, provide for full capacity for passengers, while flights of up to four hours will not include any food served to passengers besides packaged snacks. They also require international passengers to have received a health certificate showing that they are not infected by the coronavirus in the last 72 hours before flying.

Market sources say the airline sector is on the same side of the table as the government, while the likeliest scenarios say domestic flights will increase from May 18 or 25.

Next Monday German flag-carrier Lufthansa will resume its flights to and from Greece, linking Athens first with Frankfurt and then with Munich. Next month Lufthansa will also start flying to Crete.

From July, low-cost Hungarian airline Wizz Air intends to resume its services to Greece, namely to Zakynthos, Iraklio, Corfu and Rhodes, having announced it will render the use of face masks for passengers and gloves for crew members mandatory; these are measures expected to be enforced by the vast majority of air carriers.

Greek airline Bluebird, based in Iraklio, is planning to start flights between Tel Aviv and Greek islands, while Israel is one of the countries with which Greece is set to reach a bilateral agreement.

As for transatlantic flights, American Airlines is planning to resume the Chicago-Athens service from early June, while Emirates will link the Greek capital with New York’s Newark Airport as of July 1.