Air Cargo Europe: Athens’ exports overtake imports

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Athens International Airport is on the rise and airfreight volumes are increasing despite the country’s continued economic problems.

In 2014, volumes were up 3.3 per cent, and the airport’s cargo development manager, Alexios Sioris, tells Air Cargo Week at the seventh Air Cargo Europe exhibition and conference in Munich (Germany) on Wednesday 7 May, he hopes growth is here to stay, but he is uncertain about the future.

“After four years of drops in cargo volumes we are up nearly four per cent last year and we are even better so far this year. But, it does not mean much if Greece goes bankrupt,” Sioris explains. Most of the traffic rise at Athens is through bellyhold and from TNT Airways, UPS and DHL. Lufthansa Cargo also operates a freighter service. Sioris says last year exports from Athens overtook imports for the first time, as Greek people have less money to spend. These exports are mainly perishables such as fish, fruit, but textiles and pharmaceuticals are also exported. Sioris explains the volumes increase has been achieved through a strong airport community and a strong relationship with Greece customs. This cooperation with customs, he says, makes it easy to grow. 

The focus for Athens now is to drive transit cargo through a strategy called Seanairgy, which combines sea freight and air and trucking. The customs department will soon launch its electronic payment of duties and taxes, allowing payment by bank transfer as well as keeping open account with Greece’s Ministry of Finance. Sioris knows which course he feels the country should take: “We can go by ourselves, but we cannot afford too. We need Europe.”