A new Greek airline is poised to begin direct service from North America to destinations in countries along the Adriatic and Aegean Seas. SkyGreece Airlines started service last May with service between Toronto-Pearson and Athens using one Boeing 767-300ER. The airline currently offers three weekly flights from May 17 on year round service. SkyGreece started flights to Montreal from Athens three days later as a summer seasonal route, and is hoping it will continue to fuel its growth.
The carrier dates back to 2012 when a group of travel experts in Canada wanted to link Greek nationals living in North America with their homeland. No Greek carrier had operated any routes to North America following the collapse of Olympic Airlines in 2009. Plans were made for SkyGreece to operate a Boeing 767 between North America and Eastern Europe, with new routes quickly being added to the map. The carrier was granted new routes in 2014 and started its growth plan this year.
SkyGreece is quickly adding more flights to make up for the lack of days the airline operates on. Executives with the carrier surveyed Greek citizens about which city they want back on the route map, which resulted in the majority of people requesting New York. The carrier announced New York service two days before Toronto service started, with the first flights to the US occurring on June 19. The Canadian long haul carrier also started to offer non-Athens destinations, with flights from Toronto to Thessaloniki, Greece and Budapest, Hungary starting June 18th and flights from Toronto to Zagreb, Croatia starting June 26th. All new Canadian flights are flown less than three times a week using a second Boeing 767 that is due in mid June. The flights to New York are flown on an Airbus A340 also due to be delivered to SkyGreece in the next few days.
The airline will not offer business class or first class on any flights in the near future. The current layout of the Boeing 767s has 106 Premier Economy seats with 34″ width that take up the front half of the aircraft, with the remaining 164 seats being basic economy with 31″ width. The entire plane is situated in a 2-3-2 configuration. The future Airbus A340, according to the airline’s website, will operate with 12 Premier Economy seats and 288 Economy seats. The Premier Economy seats will have a seat pitch of 61″ and have lie flat seats. The Economy seats are 32″ and will not recline. Due to seat width, Premier Economy on SkyGreece’s A340 will have a 2-2-2 configuration while basic Economy will be in a traditional 2-4-2.
SkyGreece’s eventual goal is to link most of Eastern Europe, mainly Greece, with North America. After the collapse of government carriers like Aerosvit, Olympic Airlines, and Malev Hungarian, the North American-Eastern European connections have been diminished. That void, which has been growing with the recent recessions in the countries’ economy, is something that SkyGreece sees as an opportunity to profit from. Part of their strategy to obtain Eastern European routes was achieved when the carrier signed a strategic alliance with Bulgarian charter company BH Air, which allows SkyGreece passengers to fly to BH Air’s destinations. The alliance ultimately strengthens both airlines’ presence in the Balkans. While SkyGreece has a long road ahead, it is safe to say that its efforts to connect North America to Greece will not go unnoticed.