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Why Aegean Airlines Must Be Supported

Αssociated Press

Aircrafts of Aegean Airlines are parked at the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport in Athens, on Monday, May 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

The coronavirus, in its relentless sweep, has also ruined the world economy. For example, another 2.1 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, bringing the total number of unemployed to more than 40 million.

However, no industry has been hit harder – with the possible exception of the transportation sector – than the tourism industry.

This industry is completely ‘frozen.’ Hotels are closed. Many of those that were to be opened will remain closed.

The airports are deserted. Thousands of planes are stranded on airport runways. Passengers are few. The expenses, however, are accumulating.

On April 14, according to the Department of Transportation, we had a negative record of 87,534 passengers, compared to 2.2 million on the same day in 2019.

The result is that the United States – and other governments – were forced to bail out airlines with $60 billion, for the basic reason that they are necessary for the smooth running of the economy.

The situation is the same – proportionately – in Greece.

Hotels, seasonal and non-seasonal, waiting to operate in spring and summer, will be hurt if there are no mass bookings during the tourist season due to the coronavirus.

And the damage will be even worse – God forbid! – if Greece is hit with a second wave of the virus caused by the tourists.

So the government is moving in the right direction.

Aegean Airlines, the country's airline, must have suffered serious financial losses.

Should the country be left without an airline?

Certainly not. It would be tragic.

Greece, as a tourist-attracting nation, as a nation whose economy depends on said tourism and on the Greeks of the diaspora (with their visits, remittances and investments - even if it isn't said outright), needs a good airline.

And Aegean is a very good airline. I have written several times about how impressed I am with it. Entering its planes, you think you are entering another country; they are on time, with friendly staff; their airplanes are clean and way above expectations.

A tourism country cannot be left without an airline. And it can't claim a serious share of the tourist pie without an international airline.

That is why it must not only be generously funded, but also funded – to a certain extent – to fly to more international destinations such as New York and elsewhere.

It is unthinkable for a Greek airline not to fly to New York!