US carrier Continental Airlines yesterday announced the launch of its New York-Newark service to Athens, which is set to begin on June 8, 2007 with a daily flight during summer and three to five weekly flights for the rest of the year, tapping a rapidly expanding market. Athens will be the 29th city across the Atlantic that Continental – one of the world’s top five air carriers – will expand to, after serving 15 other countries. Flights to Athens – all non-stop – will be made with a 174-seater Boeing 767-200ER, departing at 12.20 p.m. from Athens and arriving in New York at 4.30 p.m. on the same day, to facilitate connection flights. The return flight will depart at 5.30 p.m. from New York and land at the Athens International Airport at 10.20 a.m. the following day. Fares are expected to be set in a couple of weeks. «We have chosen Greece as the biggest unserved market, it was next on our list, and we are very confident about it,» Jim Summerford, Continental’s vice president for Europe, the Middle East and India (EMEI), told Kathimerini English Edition. He explained that «since the (2004) Olympics there has been a huge benefit to Athens, and in 2006 there was an over-300 percent increase in traffic from New York to Athens from 2005.» Continental will allocate 25 seats on the plane for its BusinessFirst class, which has won the OAG Airline of the Year Award for the Best Executive/Business Class for the last four years. The airline has also secured a lounge in Athens for its passengers, according to Tim Kennedy, Continental’s EMEI sales and marketing managing director. The company will also offer helicopter rides from Newark to Manhattan (in just eight minutes) in a joint venture with the US Helicopter Service, in correspondence with the Athens flights. Rides will cost $159 each way. Continental, a member of the Skyteam alliance of airlines, serves about 61 million passengers every year and reaches more international cities than any US carrier, offering connections to more than 230 cities across America. It will be the first airline in the metropolitan New York area to fly from Athens directly to Newark.