DIASPORA

Greek consul general welcomes new direct service from Boston to Athens

greek-consul-general-welcomes-new-direct-service-from-boston-to-athens

The Greek Consul General in Boston has hailed the launch by Delta Airlines of a new service connecting Athens to Boston, direct, starting at the end of May.

Describing the American carrier’s initiative as the realization of a dream for the Greek-American community in New England and the result of extensive efforts by a variety of different people, Stratos Efthymiou said that the “project went through many trials and tribulations,” but “initial mistrust was overcome when we searched for and presented robust statistical data which showed that a seasonal flight would be commercially viable.” 

“After a very successful year for Greek tourism, I am glad that Delta Airlines saw in the Boston-Athens route a business opportunity,” he said.

“The Boston-Athens route, if it takes hold and gets extended to year-round in the long run… will open new roads for academics, entrepreneurs, and educators,” he said.

It will also “ease access for high-income and highly educated tourism to Greece for at least three summer months” but stressed that “most importantly, it will reunite families,” Efthymiou added.

The full announcement follows:

Dear fellow Greeks and friends of Greece, 

I am overjoyed to be able to announce that Delta Air Lines will be starting a new service route in 2022 directly connecting Athens to Boston. Flights will take place three times a week and are expected to start on May 27th, 2022.

The realization of this dream for the Greek American community of New England has been the result of a concerted, group effort led by the Consulate General of Greece in Boston. I would therefore like to take the opportunity to extend my warmest thanks to all who helped us and worked selflessly towards it: 

The two original members of the Consulate General’s task force, Marina Hatsopoulos, who helped us put together a very thorough business case, and Nick Mitropoulos. Both of them spared no efforts to help out cause. Katerina Makatouni from Kids Love Greece, carried out a terrific marketing survey and statistical analysis, and Stephanie Orphanos from Deeper Greece brought together all of the industry’s agencies.

Special thanks are owed to the former CEO of Massport Tom Glynn and to the current one, Lisa Wieland, as well as hard working executives of Boston Airport Matthew Hatfield and Mark Raker who made our cause their own. I also need to thank Ioanna Papadopoulou and Leonidas Raftopoulos from Eleftherios Venizelos Airport who provided us with support, corporate incentives, and statistical data.

This effort was unequivocally supported by former Governor Michael Dukakis, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, and his Eminence Metropolitan Methodios, Metropolitan of Boston, who extended his support and helped us distribute our marketing survey in the community.

I owe a special mention to Worcester County Sheriff and President of Massport Lew Evangelidis who has ceaselessly supported us.

Friends from the industry advised us at all times. Giorgos Zacharia, President at Kayak, George Antoniadis, CEO of PlaneSense, Sergios Diplarakos, from Aegean Airlines, and Amedeo Odoni, Professor Emeritus of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT.

Since the beginning, the Greek Government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Embassy of Greece in Washington wholeheartedly supported this project. Deputy Minister for Economic Diplomacy and Openness Mr. Kostas Fragogiannis championed our cause non-stop both during his visit to Boston as well as from Athens.

Former Minister of Tourism Harry Theoharis played a catalytic role. He came to Boston specifically to express the Greek Government’s support and interest at the highest level to all relevant authorities, to Delta Air Lines, and to other interested parties.

The project went through many trials and tribulations. Initial mistrust was overcome when we searched for and presented robust statistical data which showed that a seasonal flight would be commercially viable. Then came the 337 Max crisis, which negatively affected key airlines, and was followed by the collapse of many transatlantic flights. The pandemic grounded all planes and we thought it would lead to the project’s demise.

The crisis, however, highlighted the importance of point-to-point flights and Greece’s excellent performance over the summer, particularly with travelers from the USA, reinvigorated our efforts. Last April, two weeks after Minister Theoharis’ visit to the Delta headquarters, we contacted the company highlighting the New England Greek American community’s needs and the solid case of our project. After a very successful year for Greek tourism, I am glad that Delta Airlines saw in the Boston-Athens route a business opportunity. I congratulate them and wish them good luck.

The Boston-Athens route, if it takes hold and gets extended to year-round in the long run (which is feasible when taking into account the traffic generated around holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring break, the Boston Marathon, and the Orthodox Easter to name a few) will open new roads for academics, entrepreneurs, and educators, roads of innovation and culture that will bring the distinguished community of New England and Greece closer, fostering scientific collaborations, exchanges and business exchanges.

The direct flight will ease access for high-income and highly educated tourism to Greece for at least three summer months, facilitating study abroad programs that will bring hundreds of students.

But, most importantly, it will reunite families and bring together scores of ordinary people of the Greek diaspora and expatriates who can neither afford to travel in business class nor have an abundance of vacation days available that would allow them to travel to the homeland.

I thank you for your support.
Kind regards,
Stratos Efthymiou
Consul General of Greece in Boston