ATHENS – Saved during the COVID-19 pandemic by state aid – while accused by some customers of not providing refunds – Aegean Airlines revenues are soaring again with international and domestic air travel jumping.
Chairman Eftichios Vassilakis described the June quarter for the airline, both in terms of demand and financials, as “a lot closer to normality,” in reporting an $11 million net profit for the April-to-June period, said Airline Weekly.
That likely will get much better as 2022 brought a huge summer for Greece tourism and air travel to and around the country which was one of the best performers in the European Union.
But big losses in the first quarter of the year meant even the second-quarter profits weren’t enough, the first six months showing a $24 million loss in the fight to recover.
By June, according to the Airports Council International-Europe, Greece was one of just two European countries — the other being tiny Luxembourg — to have fully recovered to 2019 airport traffic levels, the report said.
People flocking to island resorts, led by the wealthy, pumped up the domestic air travel routes in which Aegean has the biggest share of the market but other bargain carriers benefited too.
Statistics from Fraport, which operates 14 Greek airports outside of Athens, showe passenger volumes in Corfu up 13 percent year-to-date through August compared to 2019, 20 percent in that month alone.
The increase year-to-date for Chania, on the island of Crete, was 9 percent and the major island of Rhodes was up 5 percent, the report said, making up for shortfalls at the Athens international airport and in the second-largest city of Thessaloniki, down 6 and 8 percent.
The spring and summer revenues are critical for Aegean. “In the past, there was very little margin creation in the winter to support our fixed costs,” Vassilakis said of events.
Demand has been strong through the peak third quarter, or July through September, but the winter outlook remains uncertain given high fuel prices, the strong U.S. dollar, and Europe’s energy crisis, he said.