A new era of air travel and passengers at Athens Airport
15 November 2022
For Issue 5 2022, International Airport Review’s Editorial Assistant, Lily Mae Pacey sat down with Ioanna Papadopoulou, Director, Communications & Marketing at Athens International Airport, at Routes Europe 2022. She outlined how the airport plans to accommodate the rise of a new passenger type and expand further into new route markets.
How has the pandemic impacted operations and passenger numbers at the airport?
Everything seems to be going in the right direction for a positive summer 2022 so far. We expect a recovery of almost 95 per cent for flights versus 2019 results, as per the airlines schedules. For the first two months of summer 2022, up to date with April and May, in terms of passenger numbers, we recovered up to 87 per cent of our traffic versus the respected period of 2019. If we take into consideration year-to-date traffic, then the result is -28 per cent due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. But, summer seems to be moving well for the time being and there are certain markets that are performing positively, including the U.S. with an expected increase of 60 per cent, offering more destinations, routes in comparison to December 2019. Furthermore, with the UK market, we expect a 13 per cent increase in flights, France an increase of nine per cent and Austria an increase of 35 per cent versus summer 2019 results. In terms of passenger numbers, demand remains to be seen but supply is there.
What type of traveller is most popular?
Pre-pandemic it was mainly leisure traffic – at almost 70 per cent – and the remaining 30 per cent made up of business and visiting friends and relatives (VFR) traffic, however this type of traffic varies among different markets. For both our Australian and U.S. markets, VFR passengers are more common. Overall, what we have ultimately seen post-pandemic is the rise of passengers travelling for both business and leisure, known as ‘bleisure’, or work and vacation, ‘workation’, an alternative term for the original ‘digital nomads.’ With our extended 24/7 market scheme, post-summer 2022 we will be able to recognise patterns within this new type of passenger.
How is Athens Airport accommodating to this new type of passenger?
We have paid attention to the emotional engagement of passengers, monitoring stress levels during the pandemic with Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools and also with our staff assisting throughout the airport. This is a tool we continue to implement in this new, post-pandemic era, at all touchpoints at the airport.