Giorgos Stathakis, Development minister and his tourism minister Elena Koundoura, met Ryanair’s Chief Commercial Officer, David O’Brien last Tuesday morning at the Chamber of Commerce in Chania.
It was the first time to meet the Minister of Tourism, although Ryanair tried a lot in the past to have a meeting with former Minister, Mrs. Olga Kefalogianni.
“The last government could not understand not even the basics of tourism. Greece is a beautiful country, but failed in tourism, due to airline connections. Think about Athens. The Greek capital has half the flights of Dublin, which is a smaller city with fewer attractions and sightseeings. If Athens has such a problem, it means that all regional airports in Greece have the same problem” Mr Obrien remarked.
And a large part of the problem is the high airport fees, an issue which O’Brien raised in his meeting with George Stathakis and Elena Kountoura. “In Athens in particular, the cost is 36 euros per passenger” O’Brien said, adding “At Chania Airport, we pay the same taxes in August and in January. We would like to operate the route in a full year basis, but it is impossible. If the new government plans to change the taxation, then Ryanair can have more than 5 mil. passengers from and to Greece in the next three years. We know that it is very difficult for a Minister of Tourism to persuade a Minister of Economics, but we will wait. Mr. Stathakis and Mrs. Koundoura are positive in an open discussion”.
Ryanair’s CCO also favoured re-launching the tender for the lease of 14 regional airports. “I think the tender must be re-launched with new conditions,” he said, adding that “instead of a premium, the tender must be connected with targets on passenger traffic. Airports should be given to the one who can guarantee most traffic.”
O’Brien continued to say that “the only thing worse than a state monopoly is a private monopoly” that will only care about passenger traffic in the summer months when Greece needs 12-month tourism.
And the way forward? “Reduce taxes, stop the privatization of regional airports and then we can discuss tourism” said Mr O’Brien
On the same day, Ryanair announced record advance bookings on its Chania schedule, which includes 2 new routes to Glasgow and Manchester (29 in total), and extra flights to Athens and Thessaloniki which will deliver over 935,000 customers p.a. and support 935 “on-site” jobs at Chania Airport.
Source: Chania Post