Greek carrier Aegean Airlines has inaugurated its new seasonal base at Captain Vassilis Constantakopoulos International Airport, the main gateway to Kalamata, the most populous city of the Peloponnese region in southern Greece. The airline is offering up to 12 flights a week to nine destinations across five countries as it seeks to provide a further fillip to the country’s tourist sector and boost its struggling economy.
The Star Alliance member made its debut at Kalamata in April 2010 when it introduced domestic flights to Skiathos, and from the following month links to the capital Athens followed, a route previously served by Olympic Air. The Skiathos route, on which it has faced competition from Sky Express and more recently Astra Airlines, was closed last year but the internal services to Athens continue, now being operated daily using a Bombardier Dash 8-Q400.
The expansion into international markets by Aegean Airlines at Kalamata significantly enhances connectivity to the Peloponnese region which up until now has been mainly served by charter operators providing Inclusive Tour package holidays. It also represents the first time a local carrier has provided a series of regular international flights from the facility.
Kalamata, the capital and central port of Messinia, is situated at the site of ancient Farai. Following independence from the Turks and thanks to the exploitation of the fertile Messinian lands (producing olive oil, raisins, figs etc), it developed into a wealthy urban centre and a significant port. It is a popular leisure market as the natural beauty of indented shores, sandy beaches, forested mountains and fertile valleys, coexist with significant archaeological monuments.
Aegean Airlines formally launched its international services in Kalamata on March 9, 2013 with the opening of a link to Stockholm but publicly celebrated the expansion with the debut of services to Munich the following day. The carrier will mainly cater for the increasing Russian leisure demand with flights to Moscow, St Petersburg, Kazan and Rostov but also many key European markets. Alongside the links to Stockholm and Munich, it will also serve the Swedish city of Gothenburg, the Ukrainian capital Kiev and Tel Aviv in Israel.
Speaking at the official launch of the new operating base, Eftichios Vassilakis, deputy chairman, Aegean Airlines, said: “Kalamata is now the 7th Aegean Airlines operational base, established in recognition of the impressive power of investment and the efforts of the various agencies involved, and the prospects for tourism in Messinia and the Peloponnese in general. Moreover, thanks to the Costa Navarino, Messinia is the first region in Greece to be opening for visitors from the beginning of March, and thereby extending the annual tourist season.”