As travel rebounds in Europe, Austrian Airlines is ramping up capacity to its busiest country this summer: Greece. Starting 24th July, Austrian will also fly one of its Boeing 777-200s to carry passengers from Vienna to Heraklion. This additional flight will take Saturday departures to the Greek city to four, as more passengers take to the skies.
Ramp it up!
The European summer is officially in full swing. Today, Austrian has announced plans to increase services to its hottest destinations this summer. While Greece is the most booked country, the city of Heraklion takes the top spot (the capital of Crete), followed closely by the islands of Rhodes and Kos.
To cater to this surge in demand, the Vienna-based carrier is adding a new weekly service to Heraklion. From July 24th to September 4th, Austrian will fly a fourth daily flight to the city on Saturdays. This two-hour and 30-minute route will be flown by the widebody Boeing 777, which seats an impressive 306 passengers in total. This includes 36 in business class, 24 in premium economy, and 244 in economy.
The flights are already on sale online. The flight will depart Vienna International Airport at 06:10 AM and arrive in Heraklion at 08:40 AM local times. The return flight will leave Heraklion at 10:20 and arrive in Vienna at 13:55 local times. As mentioned, this flight will only operate on seven Saturdays, from July 24th to September 4th (both included).
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After a year of curtailed schedules and dismal passenger loads, Austrian is taking every opportunity it can. This summer, the carrier has seen an exceptional 96,000 passengers booked to fly to Greece in July and August alone. This means Austrian expects to see load factors of around 80%, a strong post-pandemic figure for the airline.
Talking about the opportunities, CCO Michael Trestl said,
“The Austrians desire to travel is increasing every day. In order to be able to meet the travel needs of our passengers, we are constantly adapting our offer. In particular, the booking figures for flights to Heraklion on Crete tripled between mid-May and the end of June. We are responding to the increased demand and are increasing capacity on this route.”
Austrian’s standard Airbus A320s seats between 174 to 180 passengers, including some reserved for European business class. This means the addition of the 777 brings a huge increase in capacity on Saturdays, one of the busiest travel days.
It’s important to note that travelers must fill an online registration 24 hours before entering Greece. Vaccinated travelers can enter with no other checks. At the same time, those over 12 years old who are unvaccinated must carry a negative RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours, or an antigen test taken within 48 hours.
Austrian isn’t the only airline flying its largest planes between European destinations. Lufthansa has scheduled its 747-8 and A350 on routes to Mallorca, Spain. The city is a popular destination for German tourists, with hundreds of thousands of travelers already arriving.
Despite some gloomy projections, European aviation is looking at a strong summer season. From May to June alone Ryanair’s traffic jumped by 3.5 million passengers, equating to a 194% increase. With bookings for July and August completed by many, airlines are finally seeing some hope of recovering from the pandemic.
What do you think about Austrian’s new service to Heraklion? Let us know in the comments!