Creating an “Air Bridge” for German Tourists and Pensioners

Major German airlines and tour operators are cooperating with the Greek Tourism Ministry on an initiative to bring pensioners to Greece in the shoulder season.


The strong demand from Germany for trips to Greece, along with the severity of the energy crisis and the low winter temperatures in Northern Europe create the conditions for the formation of an “air bridge” between the two countries in the coming months: The plan foresees Greek hotels hosting Northern Europeans, mainly pensioners, motivated by the much lower heating costs, thanks to the milder climate, and the lower cost of living in general.

The initiative started to take shape this week as Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias visited Berlin. Major airlines and tourism organizations are assessing the increase in available airline seats and beds respectively.

 

Top executives of the Lufthansa and Condor airline groups and the Der Touristik and TUI tour operators met on Monday with the Greek minister to discuss the plans. The Greek initiative is expected to be supported by an incentive package that will be announced by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis this weekend at the Thessaloniki International Fair.

The common ground was that the tourism season extension can be implemented both in large urban centers (Athens, Thessaloniki) and popular holiday islands (Rhodes, Crete, Corfu, Kos). The Greek side wants airlines to strengthen their flight schedule in the winter as well. This is possible as tour operators can offer accommodation packages as long as the operation of hotel units and restaurants can be ensured and the Greek National Tourism Organization runs a campaign to attract European pensioners.

Kikilias first met with Lufthansa group’s vice president and head of international business relations, Kay Lindemann, and the Eurowings head of state affairs, Vladimir von Schnurbein. Both carriers plan to increase their flights for the winter and next summer.

Vassilis Kikilias also met with Soren Hartmann, CEO of Der Touristik, that will contact the airlines for the optimum flight planning.

German airline Condor showed particular interest in the Greek plans at a working lunch with Kikilias, and is going to extend its flights until the end of November. A meeting on the same issue was also held with the head of TUI AG, Sebastian Ebel, and his staff.

This article was previously published at ekathimerini.com.



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