ECONOMY

Airline industry discusses crisis at seaside meeting

Managers from airports and airlines around the world began a two-day meeting in Athens’s seaside suburb of Vouliagmeni yesterday to discuss routes and new destinations as they wait for the air traffic market to recover from the past year’s weakness. The two-day private conference was being attended by a big Chinese delegation, which was significant because «Greece aims to become one of the official destinations for Chinese tourists,» Athens airport officials, hosting the meeting, said in a statement. The conference, the eighth on development of the international air transport business, was being attended at Vouliagmeni, a seaside resort, by representatives of 130 airlines and 250 airports, details provided by Athens airport showed. The airport should benefit from the event, called «Routes 2002,» since it is developing for the Athens Summer Olympic Games in 2004 and wants to become a platform for air traffic to countries in Southeast Europe, Athens airport’s Managing Director Giorgos Karamanos said. «It is an event of global importance mainly because of the international situation after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the decline of air traffic last year and the recovery expected next year,» he said. Karamanos said that no decisions would be taken at the meeting, which served as a contact point between people in the air traffic industry, used by 80 percent of tourists in the world. A conference, on the theme of «Airlines and Airports: Understanding Each Other,» will take place tomorrow at the Astir Palace hotel in Vouliagmeni, and is open to registered members of the public. (AFP) Bulgaria aims to wrap up EU entry talks by the end of next year, but is not expected to join the Union before 2007. A group of eight Eastern European counties, as well as Cyprus and Malta, are set to join the EU in 2004, providing they meet the club’s tough rules this year.