Aegean Airlines will focus on expanding into secondary European markets this year as it seeks to double its share of international traffic into Greece, says chief executive Dimitrios Gerogiannis.
The Greek carrier will operate 14 new scheduled international routes this year, including a significant number to secondary markets such as Birmingham, Hamburg, Marseille and Nuremberg.
Gerogiannis says low-cost carriers are increasingly “cannibalising” these leisure markets from charter operators, and that Aegean simply cannot “close our eyes to this kind of traffic” if it is to double its international traffic volumes into Greece from 20% today to a more sustainable 35-40%.
“What happened is that these are mostly summer leisure markets – let’s not forget that Greece is mainly a charter destination. In the past six years, these have been transformed, now the low-cost carriers are getting into those markets and cannibalising the charter business,” Gerogiannis tells Flightglobal.
“When we decided to grow internationally, it was very clear that we would at some point need to enter this leisure market and fly directly to these destinations,” says Gerogiannis, adding: “In order for us to grow, we need to go into the markets where the numbers are big.”
The Aegean boss says another strategy being pursued is marketing of Greece as a tourism destination in months outside the six- to seven-month high season.
The acquisition of Olympic last year will also support Aegean’s route development strategy, giving the carrier the “critical mass” it needs to compete with its European rivals, Gerogiannis says.