WASHINGTON, DC —United Airlines wrote to the American Hellenic Institute (AHI), expressing how the company views the Greek tourism and air service market in response to a March 20, 2017 letter AHI President Nick Larigakis sent to United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz that conveyed “profound disappointment” with Munoz’s comments that attacked the launch of Emirates Airline’s year-round, non-stop daily service from Newark Liberty International Airport to Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, Athens, Greece.
In an April 4 email to President Larigakis, and copied to CEO Munoz, United’s Vice President of International Network Patrick Quayle called United’s 2016 seasonal New York/Newark-Athens service “a success” and stated United is committed to operate the service again in 2017, from May to October. Quayle added that United is aware of the growth of American tourism to Greece and cited it as a reason why United launched its New York/Newark-Athens service. However, he added United did not view other U.S. gateways, such as Chicago or Washington, DC., or a potential service to Tel Aviv via Athens, as potentially successful for nonstop service based upon the “market fundamentals.” United does continually monitor the markets for opportunities, Quayle wrote.
“The U.S. – Greece market is highly seasonal with 60% of annual demand traveling during a four month summer period,” Quayle wrote. “Demand for Greece significantly drops in the winter and we do not believe we can serve the market economically on a year-round basis. During the non-summer season, we provide connections to Greece via other European cities with various airline partners.”
Moreover, Quayle stated United’s position on the open skies policy and “for healthy and fair competition globally” in reference to Emirates Airline’s new year-round, non-stop daily service to Athens from Newark, N.J.
“We thank United Airlines for addressing each issue we presented in our letter to the company,” Larigakis said. “Although we strongly believe the market exists for year-round service to Athens, we appreciate United presenting its position. We will continue to revisit the idea with United.”
The American Hellenic Institute is a non-profit Greek American public policy center and think tank that works to strengthen relations between the United States and Greece and Cyprus, and within the Greek American community.
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