In the last decade, Greece has been associated with huge deficits, a failing economy and a national airline (Olympic) going bust. That the country and its aviation industry have found the way up again could be seen no better than on February 12. It’s leading airline, Aegean Airlines has taken delivery of the first Airbus A320neo’s. That 45 are to follow tells a lot about how serious the Greek are.

Aegean celebrated its 20th-anniversary last year with e record-number of passengers of 15 million, seven percent up from the previous year. Highest growth (+11 percent) was seen on its 120 international routes, while the 31 domestic routes welcomed three percent more passengers despite a rise of value-added taxes on tickets. The load factor increased to 84 percent.

The airline (of which regional carrier Olympic Air is a subsidiary) has yet to announce its full-year results, but in the nine month-period until September it recorded an EUR 77.1 million net profit. The Star Alliance-member had a strong cash position of EUR 637.2 million. Previous results show there is an upward trend in its performance, which bodes well for the future.

Neo’s leased and on direct order
With this future comes a new and more efficient fleet. In June 2018, Aegean confirmed an MoU for 20 A320neo’s and 10 A321neo’s to be powered with Pratt & Whitney PW-1100JGs. They are to replace the aging fleet of 49 A320ceo-family aircraft. Since then, 16 have been added through lessors.

The first aircraft with a rebranded and fresh livery was presented to invited guests (and the internet…) today in a stylish show in Athens. Aegean expects to take delivery of two neo’s on direct order this year, with nine coming from lessors. The seven up for delivery in 2021 are also leased, but aircraft delivered in 2022 (8), 2023 (10), and 2024 (10) will be direct purchases again.

Aegean expects not only 15 percent fuel cost savings coming from the GTFs but also operational benefits by using a single-standard type that can fly further. Sector lengths have gone up notably since 2016 and the new aircraft will certainly help.
The neo’s also have more capacity, featuring a new 2-class cabin with 180 seats. Passengers will soon be offered new (digital) services, chairman Theodore Vasilakis said.

Vasilakis marked the arrival of the Neo as the transition into a new era for Aegean. For the next six years, the Greek airline plan to invest over $ 500 million each year in its fleet renewal and expansion, CEO Dimitris Gerogiannis said.

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Richard Schuurman
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Active as journalist since 1987, starting with regional newspaper Zwolse Courant. Grand Prix reporter in 1997 at Dutch monthly Formule 1, general reporter Lelystad/Flevoland at De Stentor/Dagblad Flevoland, from 2002 until June 2021 radio/tv reporter/presentor with Omroep Flevoland.
Since mid-2016 freelance aviation journalist, since June 2021 fully dedicated to aviation. Reporter/editor AirInsight since December 2018. Contributor to Airliner World, Piloot & Vliegtuig. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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