Ryanair has announced it will close its base in Athens for the winter, blaming a “dysfunctional” charging regime by the airport operator.
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 and the remaining 5% in private hands.
Ryanair described the airport charges structure at Athens as “dysfunctional”, saying the airport operator refused to offer incentives to stimulate traffic in the winter season
Eddie Wilson, Ryanair chief executive, 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 it had requested, and as it claimed Croatia, Ireland, Portugal “and other” governments have done.
Ryanair also accused the Greek government of applying a “penal” airport development tax of €12 euros 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.
Dusseldorf-based AviAlliance is a subsidiary of German construction company Hochtief, which is in turn owned by Canada’s largest pension fund, the Public Sector Pension Investment Board.
Separately, Frankfurt Airport-owner Fraport operates 14 airports on the mainland and islands of Greece through subsidiary Fraport Greece following a partial privatisation in 2017.
The Greek state retains ownership of the airports, not only Athens and Rhodes but also Thessaloniki, Corfu, Chania (Crete), Kefalonia, Kos, Lesvos, Mykonos, Samos, Santorini, Skiathos and Zakynthos.