Athens Arrival: Inside United’s New Route To The Greek Capital

United Airlines inaugurated Athens from Washington Dulles on July 1st, with the Greek capital seeing a huge surge in interest from the USA. This is because those arriving from the US do not need to quarantine on arrival. “We are opening our tourist industry to the world,” tourism minister Haris Theocharis said. We examine what’s happening.

United Airlines Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner N26910(2) (1)
United Airlines has started Washington Dulles to Athens. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

United’s new Dulles to Athens service is operating seven-weekly until October 3rd. It uses 243-seat Boeing 787-8s, each with 28 business seats, 21 in premium plus, 36 in economy plus, and 158 in economy. With an outbound block time of nine hours and 45 minutes, the schedule is as follows:

  1. Dulles to Athens: leaving at 17:20 local time, arriving at 10:05 the following day
  2. Athens to Dulles: departing at 12:05 local, arriving back at 16:05 the same day

The first time from Washington to Athens

This is the first time that United has operated Dulles to Athens. However, the carrier has served Greece since 2016, when it launched Newark to Athens. This still operates on a seven-weekly summer-seasonal basis.

Dulles-Athens had some 47,000 round-trip point-to-point passengers in 2019, booking data obtained from OAG Traffic Analyzer indicates. This means it was the fourth-largest unserved market to the Greek capital, behind Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

United from Dulles to Athens
UA982 covered the first flight, some 5,168 miles, in eight hours and 46 minutes. It was operated by N45905, which was delivered to United in 2012. Image:

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Flying through Dulles

A simple analysis on a day in July using OAG Connections Analyzer shows that 53 airports across the US are connected with Athens via Dulles in both directions. This assumes a less than four-hour wait and flying no more than 30% of the way versus a non-stop.

Excluding those who flew non-stop (they’re less likely to switch to a one-stop offering), this means a potential market of over 460,000 passengers, based on 2019 numbers. United had less than a 5% share of this, showing significant upside potential. But, the amount of choice passengers now have has grown significantly.

United Airlines Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner N27903 (1)
In 2019, United only carried a few thousand passengers from Newark over Athens using fellow Star Alliance member Aegean. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

A record summer to Greece

United’s new operation comes just over a month after Delta relaunched New York JFK to the Greek capital. Indeed, this summer is due to be the best ever, at least in terms of available non-stop seats, with 10% more than in summer 2019 (S19).

Athens Arrival: Inside United’s New Route To The Greek Capital
Can you tell which summer Emirates began its Dubai-Athens-Newark service? That’s right: 2017. Image: Simple Flying using data from OAG.

Up to nine daily flights this summer

This growth is the result of three new routes: United’s new service, along with coming Atlanta with Delta (starting on the day of writing, July 2nd) and JFK with American (July 3rd). It is also helped by United growing Newark by 16% over S19, mainly by upgauging aircraft.

In a week in this coming August, 63 outbound flights are available, as shown below. On a daily basis, five flights will depart between 12:00 and 12:45.

Norwegian Air UK Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner G-CKOF (3)
Norwegian began JFK-Athens in July 2019, but the carrier has ended all long-haul services. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.
  1. Delta to JFK; 14-weekly by the A330-300
  2. American: JFK; seven-weekly; B777-200ER
  3. American: Chicago; seven-weekly; B787-8
  4. American: Philadelphia; seven-weekly; B787-8
  5. Delta: Atlanta; seven-weekly; A330-300
  6. Emirates: Newark; seven-weekly; B777-300ER
  7. United: Newark; seven-weekly; B777-200ER
  8. United: Dulles; seven-weekly; B787-8

Are you planning a trip to Greece or anywhere else this summer? Let us know in the comments.