ATHENS – Airlines carrying passengers to Greece won't have to keep middle seats empty as a precaution against a resurgence of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic but passengers will have to carry certificates showing they are healthy.
Those were among the measures put forth by Tourism Minister Haris Theoharis afer the local airline industry said cutting the number of seats wouldn't be profitable and require them to drastically raise prices for available seats.
Theoharis said he hopes tourism will resume in July with further lifting of lockdowns aimed at preventing the spread of the virus but it's not yet set when international air traffic will begin again in full force and under what conditions.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said at a recent press conference that if the middle seats stay empty the airlines will find it very hard to recover, while ticket prices would soar.
The Tourism Ministry’s health protocols also will not allow food service for flights up to four hours apart from prepackaged snacks and that passengers must have the certificates showing they were tested at least 72 hours before flying.
Domestic flights could begin May 18 or May 25, said Kathimerini, while Germany's Lufthansa will start flights to Greece on May 18, first from Frankfurt and then from Munich and will fly to Crete in June.
The budget Hungarian airline Wizz Air intends to start flights to Zakynthos, Iraklio, Corfu and Rhodes and said face masks and gloves will be mandatory for passengers as well as airline crews, expected to follow suit across the industry.
Greek airline Bluebird, based in Iraklio on Crete, is planning to start flights between Tel Aviv and the Greek islands, while Israel is one of the countries with which Greece is set to reach a bilateral agreement.
American Airlines is planning to resume the Chicago-Athens service from early June, while Emirates will link the Greek capital with New Jersey's Newark Airport as of July 1 but other major airlines coming to Greece, such as Delta, haven't announced their plans.