In news from Chania, regional authorities met last week with Fraport Greece CEO Alexander Zinell to discuss ways to attract companies to the region. At the to discuss expanding the horizons for Chania’s “Daskaloyiannis” airport, concerns were expressed about Ryanair’s decision to scrap its base in Chania. Underneath the positive news though, stakeholders in Crete worry the German company may be mucking up any shot at off-season tourism wins.
Fraport executives explained that dropping Chania was a result of Ryanair’s business plans. Also at the meeting, officials presented Fraport with a joint memorandum of all participants at the meeting stating that “our shared goal must be the economic development of Western Crete.”
Meanwhile, in news from Ryanair the airline announced having added 13 new routes to its 2018 winter schedule, connecting Athens and Thessaloniki with destinations in Europe, Asia and North Africa. Ryanair’s Marketing Manager Eastern Mediterranean Nikolas Lardis, told reporters during a press conference on Tuesday:
“With the new routes and more flights on five existing itineraries, Ryanair is expected to carry 5.7 million passengers and grow its traffic by 14 percent this year.”
At the other end of the conversation, Ryanair simply gauged operations to Chania unfeasible in their “business plan” for operating to Crete. It’s been a year since Fraport Greece took over 14 of the country’s regional airports, and the German-Greek consortium continues to struggle to satisfy those local communities.
Many local authorities seem to be parroting the feelings of Rhodes Mayor, Fotis Chatzidakos, who told tourism executives that “Fraport Greece has done almost nothing to improve conditions,” since taking over the local airports. In Chania, the Association of Car Rentals agency went so far as accusing the German company of carrying out “hostile” policies. On the Ryanair move from Chania, the company released a statement that wreaks of a hostile takeover rather than a negotiation by Fraport:
“Unfortunately, the charges for Greek airports, for the most part, encourage routes only in the summer and only in international destinations, which require fewer aircraft in Greece. Therefore, two aircraft will be transported from Greece to Germany, where they can achieve a higher return on an annual basis. Ryanair remains open to discussions with airport operators to develop a development plan covering all airlines, supporting flights throughout the year and justifying additional aircraft on a permanent basis at Greek airports.”
For those unfamiliar with Fraport Greece in Chania, the consortium became part of a privatization plan aimed at appeasing Greek lenders, one which grants the German-based company a 40 run of things at Crete’s second biggest tourism portal. Fraport AG Frankfurt Airport Services Worldwide, or Fraport, is a German transport company which operates Frankfurt Airport in Frankfurt am Main and one which has interests in the operation of several other airports from India to Brazil.
Considering that Deutsche Lufthansa AG is a significant investor in Fraport, some experts feel the Germans are putting the squeeze on Ryanair and other budget carriers in markets served by selected competitors. Fraport’s CEO, Stefan Schulte negotiated with Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras the concession of the 14 airports for a fund investment of 1,234 billion euro back in April of 2017. The airports that fell to Fraport Greece were; Aktio, Chania, Kavala, Kefalonia, Kerkyra, Kos, Mitilini, Mykonos, Rhodes, Samos, Santorini, Skiathos, Thessaloniki and Zakynthos.