Athens Airport and its cargo community amidst the COVID-19 outbreak

Alex Sioris, Cargo Development Manager of Athens Airport and Christos Spyrou, NAP CEO, had an in depth discussion about the Athens International Airport (“AIA”) and the challenges its cargo community faced during the pandemic.

We were glad to welcome Alex Sioris, Cargo Development Manager of Athens Airport at our Athens NAP Athens office for an in-depth discussion about the regional and global airfreight community challenges amidst Covid-19 outbreak.

“As the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to grow globally, “AIA” Athens International Airport and the wider airport community are suffering an unprecedented business situation.

What is considered appropriate today, changes day by day at a pace that any planning, calculation or strategic decision eventually ends up being outdated, even before it is half-way finalized. Evidently, this downturn has hit AIA both in its aeronautical as well as commercial business.

Since the outset of the crisis, passenger traffic has been suffering a 98.5% loss versus last year. During the same time, however, the drop in cargo flows has been significantly lower, contracting by merely 30%. While belly hold capacity, which accounts for approx. 65% of total capacity, is currently non-existent due to the suspension of passenger aircraft operations, cargo flights into Athens have increased: further to the  Antonov 225 Mriya that flew in 140 tonnes of medical supplies on May 14th, Turkish Airlines and Swiftair have stepped in with a series of freighter flights. Meanwhile, Road Feeder Services are back on the agenda with regular services offered by Lufthansa Cargo and ad hoc services by Cargolux.

All 4 big integrators (DHL, UPS, TNT and Fedex) have been also contributing significantly with a 14%-tonnage increase over last year. Last but not least, further to various other charter and/or humanitarian  flights, home carrier Aegean has been sponsoring  a series of  cargo flights carrying medical aid. Year to date, volumes stand at -19%.

Obviously, the current pandemic has frozen AIA’s current cargo development endeavors, including the Airport cargo community’s CEIV Pharma Certification by IATA, with various forwarding and trucking companies as well as all three main ground and cargo handlers having already or being about to receive certification status, and the re-initiation of sea-air cargo flows with Cosco Greece,the Piraeus port operator. Not withstanding all the above, after several years of deliberations with Hellenic Customs, remote Customs clearance, was introduced in the midst of the pandemic. A tragic irony really. ” said Sioris.