Return to Athens: Temple of Tourism


Joining Dublin as an exciting new addition to Finnair’s summer roster is evergreen Athens, a tourist hub with undying appeal – and now more affordable than ever.

Finnair will launch the new Athens service on April 5, 2015, with one Airbus 319 flight departing from Helsinki on Sunday mornings. On May 6, a second Airbus 320 flight operated on Wednesday evenings will be added to the schedule. The seasonal summer service will run until October 21.

With the Greek economy facing critical decisions regarding its future, on first appraisal it might seem counterintuitive to launch a new Athens route amid the current state of political and financial turmoil. But the timing is actually highly logical. 
“The Finns have always been enthusiastic vacationers in Greece, and now it’s a highly affordable destination to visit,” says Anja Pöyhönen, Finnair Cargo’s sales director for Continental Europe, Finland, the Baltics and Eastern Europe.
The 2014 tourism rebound is, in fact, one of the few bright spots on the Greek economic horizon. The tourist industry has proved resilient throughout the crisis and is one of the few sectors promoting the recovery of economic activity, reported Greek Economic Outlook, published by the Centre of Planning and Economic Research, last year.
Conditions are currently highly favorable for tourism, and growth in tourist flows is also having a positive impact on related products and services and the restoration of jobs. The industry has a clear peak season, however. Tourism flows are highest for between June and August, though an increase was also recorded last year in year-round inbound tourism. 

Ancient attraction

When it comes to culture, history and mesmerizing sights, few European capitals can compete with Athens. Everyone’s bucket list should include a once-in-a-lifetime visit to the majestic Parthenon and the Acropolis, the most famous ancient sight in the western world, ideally followed by a stroll through the cobbled alleyways of the Plaka neighbourhood, and Greek meze and ouzo in a sidewalk café or relaxed tavern.
“Athens is a city we haven’t flown to for a long time, so it has the appeal of a wholly new destination. Its historic attractions are bound to interest many vacationers, including our Asian transit passengers, some of whom might want to combine a city holiday with a visit to the Greek Islands,” says Pöyhönen.
The Greek Economic Outlook reveals that arrivals from Asia have shown a significant increase, with the number of Asian tourists in Greece almost tripling between 2008 and 2013. Visitor arrivals from Asia in 2013 were 1.353 million, while the corresponding figure for 2012 was 875,000. Asia accounted for 6.8 percent of total arrivals in Greece in 2013.

Feta to Finland

Athens also has interesting potential as a gateway for air cargo, adds Pöyhönen. “Greece imports a lot of electronics and car parts. Its main exports are pharmaceuticals and foodstuffs such as olive oil, fruit, vegetables, and cheese.”
With only two flights on the weekly schedule, however, the frequency of the service poses a challenge for certain types of cargo.
“Twice a week can be too seldom for certain customers shipping fresh goods. Therefore, we on the cargo side remain hopeful that additional rotations might be added to this route sometime in the future so we could offer a more frequent service to all customers shipping goods especially to and from Asia. “
Text by Silja Kudel
Photo by iStock

Published March 25, 2015

Category: Local features, Finnair Cargo