Ryanair plans to close its base in Athens for the winter, blaming what it calls a ‘dysfunctional’ charging regime by the airport operator, under which it refuses to offer incentives to stimulate traffic in the winter season.
In a statement, Ryanair said: “Athens Airport is a prime example of how the Greek government and German high-cost ownership is failing to deliver”.
Athens International Airport is managed by German operator AviAlliance, which owns 40% of the airport, with the Greek government holding a 55% stake. The remaining 5% is in private hands. Eddie Wilson, Chief Executive, Ryanair, said: “Regrettably, the decision to sell most Greek airports to high-cost German operators has had a devastating impact on job creation as these operators have no interest in lowering prices to stimulate traffic”.
He said the Greek government had “inexplicably” failed to respond to Ryanair’s plans for growth to Athens by lowering airport charges, as the airline had requested. The carrier claimed governments, such as those in Croatia, Ireland, Portugal and others have done so.
Ryanair also accused the Greek government of applying a “penal” airport development tax of €12 per passenger.
Wilson said: “We again ask Minister for Tourism Vassilis Kikilias to reply to our growth proposals in which we offer to transform Greece’s tourism market over the next five years by doubling traffic to 10 million passengers a year, bolstering off-peak tourism, creating 4,000 local jobs, and supporting regional development”.
He added: “This failure of engagement by the Greek government has already led to Ryanair’s closure of our Rhodes base this summer and has now forced us to close our Athens base this October and reallocate capacity”.
Ryanair opened a base at Athens in April 2014.