Infrastructure, human resources and the expansion of seasonality are the necessary conditions for the sustainable development of tourism and air transport in Greece, according to the statements of AEGEAN CEO Dimitris Gerogiannis during his participation in the event “Reimagine Tourism in Greece” on Wednesday 14 June in Athens.
Some points of his statement:
Infrastructure: Undoubtedly, the issue of infrastructure is extremely important for the sustainable development of tourism, but also for the sustainable development of cities and the country as a whole, as they are the necessary conditions for quality living for both residents and visitors.
This is why infrastructure issues cannot be analysed in isolation. They do not stop at the airport or air traffic. Instead, they concern the overall strengthening of infrastructure in a destination, especially in transport, but also in energy, water supply, waste management, etc. The strengthening of infrastructure can make a significant contribution to the development prospects of the tourism sector, but more importantly to the quality of life of residents. It is infrastructure that must be accelerated and will remain a ‘dowry’ for the place and the destination, because when it is good for the local community, it is also good for tourists.
In particular, as far as the air transport sector is concerned, the key infrastructures that require systematic effort and upgrading are air navigation (air traffic management) and airports and there are still some structural issues that need to be addressed so that the sector can operate efficiently for both the passenger and the users/airports to be able to handle the further increase in traffic that tourism brings with it and to support combined, sustainable
In the air navigation sector in particular, it is imperative that we move to strengthen human resources with air traffic controllers, as well as upgrade the technological infrastructure, because air navigation is a collaboration between people and technology. There is room for improvement there and steps must be taken so that the passenger experience entering and leaving the country can be significantly upgraded.
Where there has already been a significant improvement, not to say that interventions are not yet needed overall, is at the 14 airports managed by Fraport and we have now seen a huge difference in the travel experience both for the passenger themselves and for airport users such as airlines and ground handling companies.
However, we still have many other smaller (or even larger) airports in the country, which need operational and operational support.
Human resources: However, perhaps the most basic infrastructure for the sector and for tourism as a whole is of course human resources. For us at AEGEAN this has been a “doctrine” from the very beginning, to invest in our human resources, in upskilling, in reskilling, in training our people in order to give long-term perspectives to our people.
It is worth mentioning that we started with 70 Scholarships to new and young Pilots in 2018, and today, we have renewed the program with another 120 Scholarships for the next 3 years, until 2025. Already 70 children from the first cycle are in our cockpits and we are very happy. While since last year we also funded a similar program for engineers and aircraft technicians with 40 scholarships in our engineering school and another 120, for the next 3 years.
Sustainability: Along with the investment in the human element, we are in the middle of the investment we started in 2018, which is on new aircraft and engine technology, which brings a significant reduction in our fuel footprint, as it is more than 15% compared to the previous generation AIRBUS we were using. We started this investment in 2018 and continued it through COVID. We are about halfway through this investment, with deliveries to be completed in the next 2-3 years.
Obviously on sustainability and reducing our environmental footprint, in addition to the renewal of our fleet, we have moved 2 years ago, from 2021 onwards, to the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuels. We are the only airline in Greece and one of the few in Europe to carry out a systematic program of using SAF on our flights, with all our flights departing from Thessaloniki Macedonia airport being equipped with SAF, and we are looking for ways to soon make this possible for other stations in our network. This is an important step towards a more visible solution to improve the environmental footprint in aviation.
At the same time, and as a focus on sustainability permeates all our business decisions, we are creating a new “green” building and logistical infrastructure at our new technical base at Athens International Airport to sustainably house the first modern ecosystem for aviation in Greece.
We are creating one of the first “green” Hangars in Europe as the energy upgrade of the building facilities, and the installation of 35,000 m2 of photovoltaic panels in the shell of the buildings, will result in the production of 3 MW of clean energy to meet the energy needs of the activities that will be housed in our new technical facility.
That is, the space that will house both our pilot and crew training school and our technical base, which we are now expanding to undertake aircraft and flight maintenance work for third parties.