Airlines are preparing to place hundreds of thousands more seats between the UK and Greece next summer than they did in 2019 in hopes of a surge in foreign holidays as travel restrictions ease.
Jet2 and easyJet are from airlines that have added capacity to their pre-pandemic flight schedule for 2022. Jet2 said it had 1 million more seats for sale between Greece and the UK than it offered in 2019, while easyJet has plans to add another 500,000. airline tickets according to its schedule subject to space being made available at airports.
“I met most of the tour operators and airlines here in the UK. . . we are very, very optimistic about 2022, ”Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias told the Financial Times during the World Travel Market conference in London.
Kikilias said Greece expects 35 per cent more tourists from the UK next year than it had in 2021, which equates to the record level of around 3.6 million in 2019. He predicted that the “sun, sea and sand season would start earlier than usual, in March.
The agreements between the airlines and the Greek government, with the Ministry of Tourism helping to secure airport slots for aircraft in exchange for guarantees of incoming flights, are an indication of the travel industry’s belief in a strong setback in foreign travel next year .
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said he expects the recovery to be in full swing by next summer, when its airline will operate more than 500 new routes across Europe.
“We are looking at very significant growth next year,” he said.
Several tour operators, including Tui, Europe’s largest, have said that bookings for holidays in the summer of 2022 have already exceeded the level of bookings at the equivalent point in 2019, with consumers choosing to spend savings on restrictions on higher-grade accommodation and resorts .
Greece was one of the first European countries to reopen to international tourists after the first restrictions in 2020. Tourism-related revenues make up about 25 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.
The UK is Greece’s second largest incoming market after Germany, but strict UK travel restrictions this year have forced many to vacation at home.
Kikilias, who was appointed to the tourism ministry in September after previously being health minister, said the country had taken a “calculated risk” of opening early, but that it had borne fruit with greater consumer confidence that Greece is safe to travel to.
The government has installed extra doctors in hotels, added health workers to Greece’s popular island destinations and used € 320 million in EU funding to upgrade its tourism sector, the minister said.
Greece has targeted 50 percent of 2019’s passenger numbers and revenue in 2021, equivalent to between € 5 billion and € 6 billion in tourism-related spending, but the government said it has already reached 65 percent of 2019’s revenue levels so far this year.
Wizz Air, Lufthansa and Ryanair are among airlines that have reported their first profitable quarter since the start of the pandemic in the three months to end-September. IAG, the owner of British Airways, predicted a return to profit in the second or third quarter of next year.