Thessaloniki Macedonia Airport: how it became one of the top airports in Europe

For a country like Greece, which is looking steadily towards the future and towards continuous modernization, the issue of systematic infrastructure development remains central in every era, regardless of the small or big challenges that times may bring.

A typical example of this is the Thessaloniki International Airport “Macedonia”, as its historical path is intertwined with the successful response to the various (and different) needs created by each era. Thus, from the years of the First World War, when the area hosting it first started to operate as an airport, to the standard terminal of the current location (1965), the expansions of the period 2000-2003 and the significant modernization and development projects recently implemented thanks to the investment of Fraport Greece (April 2017), a stable picture is formed. Which puts it in a prominent position, as a successful case study of continuous progress and evolution.

Now, thanks to Fraport Greece’s significant distinction in the international “2022 Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards”, this character is even more strengthened: in an era of new challenges, in the midst of intense global competition, the airport manages to stand out again, emerging as one of the top airports in Europe in the category of airports handling between 5 and 15 million passengers annually.
An important international award, based on the experience of the travellers themselves. Photo.
A major international award, based on the experience of travellers themselves

Presented annually, the ASQ Awards are for the world’s leading airports and are part of the Airports Council International’s (ACI) global airport rating programme. But Fraport Greece’s distinction in them is not just another international presence among many similar awards. On the contrary, it has a special significance because, in the case of this particular institution, it is all based on the experience of the travellers themselves.

The award criteria on which the ASQ Awards are based are based solely on the experience of the travelling public, which is asked to express an opinion on a number of parameters, such as the quality of the services provided by an airport, the emotional response generated at the various interaction points or the overall experience of staying in the ecosystem of the airport under evaluation. In fact, this assessment is immediate, as the traveller is asked to carry it out on the day of his/her flight, so that the resulting picture is as complete and comprehensive as possible.

As far as Thessaloniki International Airport “Macedonia” is concerned, the results have been excellent, testifying both to the high quality of the services provided and to the trajectory of continuous growth, which – as mentioned before – came as a direct result of the development plans of the managing company Fraport Greece, which did not hesitate to continue the necessary works even in the midst of the recent pandemic, finding ways to overcome the unprecedented difficulties created by the extraordinary sanitary condition. More specifically, the airport received high scores in most of the 30 evaluation indicators included in the relevant ASQ Awards questionnaire. This can now be used as a means of further enhancing the airport’s own visibility at international level, as well as that of Thessaloniki and Greece in general.

The award for Thessaloniki airport “Macedonia” Airport as one of the top airports in Europe in the category of those airports handling between 5 and 15 million passengers annually, was shared by Panagiotis Spyratos, General Manager of Operations (COO) of Fraport Greece, who said that this is an event that “fills us with joy and pride, being a significant achievement, which is credited to all employees of the airport”. At the same time, of course, he clarified that Fraport Greece does not intend to rest on these laurels: “We are committed to continuing to build on these very positive results,” he said, “by devising strategies that respond to the ever-increasing needs of our passengers, whether they are travelling for business or personal reasons.”

Growth in passenger traffic and new routes

In his aforementioned statements on the occasion of the awarding of Macedonia Airport at the ASQ Awards, Mr. Spyratos also touched upon the continuous upgrading of the services provided at the 14 regional airports managed by Fraport Greece, adding that “we aim to offer a safe and memorable travel experience, while contributing to the development of Greek tourism and supporting local communities”. In this direction, Thessaloniki Airport continues its steady growth, significantly increasing its passenger traffic, but also expanding its range of activities, for example by adding new routes to various popular destinations.

Referring to the data so far on the development of passenger traffic at Macedonia Airport through 2023, Fraport Greece’s General Director of Development, Mr. George Vilos, said that, despite the complete absence of the Russian markets (due to the current conflict in Ukraine), it is clear that Thessaloniki has fully recovered compared to 2019, emerging as a 12-month metropolitan destination in a wide range of international markets. He stressed, however, that we shouldn’t be complacent: “The ever-increasing competition between different destinations, globally, requires – more than ever before – direct and coordinated efforts by all stakeholders involved in the tourism development of Thessaloniki, aimed at the effective promotion of the city and the wider region in foreign markets.”

Indeed, the detailed data released showed that from the beginning of 2023 to (and) 31/8/2023, Macedonia Airport served 4,706,261 passengers, recording an increase of 20.8% compared to 2022 data and an increase of 0.7% compared to 2019. At the same time, the number of passengers handled on domestic flights reached 1,489,231 (+20.1% compared to 2022 and +1.3% compared to 2019), while the number of passengers on international flights rose to 3,217,030 (+21.1% compared to 2022 and +0.5% compared to 2019).

These figures clearly reflect the momentum which the Thessaloniki market maintains, despite the gap created by the absence of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus from the big picture. Their qualitative analysis, in fact, clearly showed that the passenger traffic lost by Macedonia Airport due to the current war was fully covered in the first 8 months of 2023 by the increase in the numbers of travellers coming from European countries such as Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Romania, Poland, Hungary, Switzerland, Romania, Poland and Hungary, as well as from Great Britain.

Something else that distinguished the first 8 months of 2023 in terms of the expansion of Macedonia Airport’s activities was the new routes launched by both pre-existing and new airlines. Aegean Group & Georgian Airways, for example, flies to Tbilisi, Georgia, Sky Express to Wroclaw, Poland, Eurowings and Smartwings (respectively) to Salzburg and Graz, Austria, Wizz Air to Tirana, Albania, while Sundair connects Thessaloniki to Bremen, Germany.

At the same time, new routes to popular destinations have been added. Albania, for example, which has seen a significant increase in tourism this year, was previously absent from the travel map. In addition, flights have been launched to Corfu (Ryanair Group), Venice and Cologne (Aegean Group), Vienna (Smartwings) and Oslo (via Norwegian). Their presence, combined with Thessaloniki’s renewed international prominence through the ASQ Awards, allows Macedonia Airport to look to the future with optimism, being one of the most important travel hubs on a pan-European level.

source: thessaloniki airport taxi

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