Aegean and Athens Airways providing growing competition to Olympic; Athens welcomes Air Arabia and Etihad

Image: Libyan Airlines returns to Greece
Libyan Airlines returns to Greece after a 17-year absence – two weekly flights connect Athens with Tripoli and Benghazi. Pictured, captain Mohamed Ibsem (Libyan Airlines CEO) & George Karamanos, (Athens’ director, communications) with officials.
Image: Aegean added five new destinations at the start of the Summer timetable
Gaining ground: Aegean added five new destinations at the start of the Summer timetable – Brussels, Berlin, Barcelona, Vienna and Venice. George Karamanos reappears for the Berlin opening – this time with Dimitris Gerogiannis, Aegean’s managing director.

While the national flag carrier Olympic continues to face an uncertain future, other carriers are stepping up to provide increasing competition at Athens airport. The new airport, which opened in March 2001, has witnessed passenger numbers increase from 12 million in its first year of operation to over 16 million in 2007. Last year traffic was virtually flat. It is by far the busiest airport in Greece with around three times as many passengers as Heraklion on the island of Crete.

Chart: Athens airport traffic 1992-2008
Source: Athens Airport, ICAO

So far in 2009 traffic is down around 6% with traffic up in April thanks to the re-timing of Easter. The airline’s seasonality profile is less pronounced than at most other Greek airports which are more reliant on seasonal tourism. Demand in the peak month of August is around twice as high as in February.

Chart:  Athens airport seasonality
Source: Athens Airport, ICAO

The hosting of the summer Olympics in August 2004 had no noticeable impact on overall demand for air travel at the airport.

Aegean almost bigger than Olympic

Based on scheduled seat capacity for this August Olympic is still, just, the leading airline at Athens with just over 30% of capacity and 36% of flights. However, it does serve some 61 destinations non-stop compared with Aegean’s 33.

Airline Frequency share Capacity share Routes (Dom/Int)
Olympic 36.4% 30.5% 61 (32/29)
Aegean 26.9% 29.7% 33 (16/17)
easyJet 2.9% 3.6% 6 (0/6)
Athens Airways 6.9% 2.8% 14 (14/0)
Lufthansa 2.0% 2.7% 2 (0/2)
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 10 August 2009

Newcomer Athens Airways, which only started scheduled services at the end of January 2009, is already the third biggest airline if measured by flights and fourth in terms of capacity. It operates on 14 domestic routes using a fleet of four Embraer ERJ145s and one Q300.

A total of 68 airlines are operating scheduled services at the airport this summer including several foreign airlines proving long-haul services such as Continental (to Newark), Delta (to Atlanta and New York), Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways (to Bangkok) and US Airways (to Philadelphia). Emirates, Gulf Air and Qatar Airways have recently been joined by Etihad services to Abu Dhabi (thrice-weekly since 2 June), and Air Arabia services to Sharjah (thrice-weekly since 21 April) in providing capacity to the Middle East.

easyJet leads modest low-cost presence

easyJet is the leading low-cost carrier at the airport this summer operating 59 weekly departures across six routes to Berlin, London (Gatwick and Luton), Manchester, Milan and Paris. Aer Lingus, Air Arabia, clickair, Germanwings, MyAir, Norwegian, SkyEurope, Transavia and Vueling, combined with easyJet, have less than 7% of scheduled seat capacity this summer. The demise of Sterling affected the airport as it provided services to four Scandinavian destinations but Cimber Sterling and Transavia have stepped in to replace some of the lost capacity.

Athens Airways and Aegean lead new route launches

Since last August the airport has gained many new services thanks to the launch of Athens Airways and the on-going network expansion of Aegean.

Gained AUH (Etihad), AXD (Athens Airways), BCN (Aegean), BEN (Libyan Airlines), BRU (Aegean), CDG (Aegean), CHQ (Athens Airways), CPH (Cimber Sterling), CPH (, DUS (Aegean), EFL (Athens Airways), GVA (Baboo), HER (Athens Airways), JKH (Athens Airways), JMK (Athens Airways), JTR (Athens Airways), KRK (LOT), KSO (Athens Airways), KVA (Athens Airways), KZI (Athens Airways), MAN (easyJet), MJT (Athens Airways), PFO (Aegean), RHO (Athens Airways), SHJ (Air Arabia), SKG (Athens Airways), TIP (Libyan Airlines), TXL (Aegean), VCE (Aegean), Athens Airways (ZTH)
Lost ARN (Sterling), BTS (SkyEurope), CPH (Sterling), DME (Krasnoyarsk Airlines), DUS (airberlin), GOT (Sterling), GVA (Olympic), JED (Saudi Arabian), KRK (Centralwings), LED (Rossiya), MUC (airberlin), MXP (Volareweb), OSL (SAS and Sterling), TIA (Albanian Airlines)
Source: Derived from OAG Max Online for w/c 4 August 2008 and w/c 10 August 2009

Apart from the loss of Sterling routes Athens has also seen airberlin withdraw all of its routes to the airport and LOT replace the now defunct Centralwings on flights to Krakow. The withdrawal of SAS services to Olso means that there are now no direct services to the Norwegian capital. Despite the airline’s problems Olympic has only dropped one route during the last 12 months, to Geneva. Swiss regional Baboo has since stepped in to provide competition with Swiss on the route.

Image: Athens welcomes Etihad
Athens welcomes Etihad – three-times weekly services began on 2nd June.


  1. James Pearson says:

    EZY yesterday announced FCO-ATH.

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