Starting from April 1st, Ryanair is to launch flights from London Stansted, Milan Bergamo and Paphos in Cyprus to Athens. The low-cost air company recently announced its decision to open a new base in the Greek capital and also an additional base in Thessaloniki, the largest city in northern Greece.
In particular, Ryanair will connect Thessaloniki with the UK (London Stansted), Germany (Baden-Baden, Bremen, Dusseldorf Weeze, Frankfurt Hahn), Belgium (Brussels Charleroi), Italy (Milan Bergamo, Pisa, Rome Ciampino), Spain (Girona Barcelona), Norway (Oslo Rygge), Sweden (Stockholm Skavsta) and Cyprus (Paphos).
Apart from external flights, Ryanair will also serve internal flights from Athens to Chania, Thessaloniki and Rhodes, and from Thessaloniki to Athens and Chania.
With this $280 million investment in Greece, the airline said it would carry over 1.2 million passengers at Athens with 154 weekly flights, and over 1.6 million per year at Thessaloniki with 212 weekly flights. The company said their intention is to provide passengers with an alternative to Aegean and Olympic, the two Greek airlines, offering new air routes and low cost tickets.
Ryanair's Director of Commercial David O'Brien also referred to the high air taxes of the International (Venizelos) Airport of Athens that are almost double compared to the taxes of other European airports. As he said, this keeps traffic in the airport of Athens in low levels, although the city has enormous potentials to develop into a transportation hub.
Apart from the Greek airlines, Ryanair will also have to compete against EasyJet, which already operates low-cost flights to Athens from London Gatwick, Manchester and Edinburgh. Aegean and British Airways have flights from Heathrow.