NEW YORK - Greece's bet that tourists will again flood the country this summer with vaccinations allowing more people to travel is being backed up by airlines scrambling to add flights, including the major US carrier Delta.
The airline has summer direct service to Athens, with three daily flights, two from JFK airport in New York City one from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport at its biggest hub.
Athens’ connection with New York is expected to begin May 28. The nonstop daily service will provide a from 44 U.S. cities across Delta’s network adding to the demand that will see some 2,000 seats daily by airlines to Athens.
Delta will begin new daily nonstop service to Athens on July 2 from Atlanta with connections from 143 cities, said Greek Travel Pages Headlines, the route last operating in 2011.
Greece is especially keen on the return of Americans and Greek-Americans, a major market locked out in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic that's starting to be slowed by vaccinations, although health measures are still in force.
Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis said, “We welcome Delta Air Lines to Athens… Greece is a safe destination. All this time we have taken all the measures to have a safe, friendly and calm summer,” he added after meeting the airline’s President, Glen Hauenstein, and senior executives of the company.
“Customers are eager to reclaim their lives and for many that means traveling again,” Delta Air Lines Senior Vice President Joe Esposito said, adding that “outdoor-friendly destinations” like Greece are particularly in demand.
Theoharis was in the the US to promote Greece's official opening on May 14 to tourists who are vaccinated or can show a negative Coronavirus test although it's open to Americans as well as those from Serbia, Israel and the United Arab Emirates in a test.
Greece is technically still in a mostly eased pseudo-lockdown and will let restaurants reopen for outdoor dining on May 3 to provide another incentive for people to come who might shy aware if mostly confined to a hotel room.
Earlier, United Airlines said it would begin seasonal daily service to Iceland and Greece beginning in July with travel sites reporting Greece a favorite destination for the summer over pent-up demand.
United executives said bookings are rising ahead of the peak summer vacation season, and they expect that trend to grow stronger as more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19. The airline predicted that a number of financial measures will improve from the first quarter into the second.
American Airlines is also going to be operating direct flights from JFK to Athens and some flights in the early summer are already mostly full as airlines gamble people are eager to travel.