According to data collected in the first half of 2018, passenger traffic in Greece is witnessing an all-time rise having increased by 45 per cent over the past four years.

Following the acquisition by Fraport of 14 Greek regional airports, air traffic went up by 10.9 percent, seeing 4.36 million passengers got through the airports, withe the busiest airports being Athens, Iraklio, Rhodes, Thessaloniki and Hania.

Santorini, Kos and Cephallonia, on the other hand reported double-digit annual passenger increases with numbers reaching up to and over 3,500 flights per day.

The annual income estimated to derive from the arrivals to Greece especially during summer months is being received positively by Greece’s lenders.

As a result, a construction license has been issued for a major 90 million euro renovation of Thessaloniki’s Macedonia Airport.

Greece’s tourism market keeps expanding allowing more job openings to the aviation sector. Since 2014, Greece’s Civil Aviation Authority (YPA) hired an additional 70 air traffic controllers to meet safety standards due to increased traffic levels.

Piraeus cruise port. Photo: Maritime Traffic

While Greek airports have every reason to celebrate, ports, and especially the cruise ship sector is suffering a drop in bookings way below 2017’s levels.

Last year, in fact, also witnessed a significant slide in the specific – and lucrative – tourism sub-sector, a confusing development given Greece’s healthy holiday and travel numbers over recent years.

“We witnessed the most profound decrease in 2017,” said Theodoros Kontes, president of the Association of Cruise Ship Owners and Maritime Agencies (EEKFN)”

“Compared to recent years, [it is] down by 20 per cent … but our initial forecasts were for a small correction of around 2 per cent for 2018, and a gradual upward trend in the coming years. Instead, after researching travel agencies and ports it appears that 2018 will post another significant decrease – 2 per cent for docking of vessels, and 3.2 per cent for arrival of passengers.”

Kontes has recorded a total of 3,353 cruises scheduled to take place in 2018, which translates into 4.48 million passengers; a reportedly lower number compared to the 2017 statistics.