The city that once nurtured democracy and philosophy now has another reason to boast: it is the home of the AirlineRatings 2018 Best Regional Airline.
Athens-based Aegean Airlines has come a long way since it started flying from the Greek capital to Thessaloniki and Heraklion, Crete, with just two jets in 1999.
“It is now Greece’s biggest airline with a fleet of modern Airbus A320 family aircraft, a good reputation among travelers and bold plans for expansion,” judges said.
“The airline is also heavily involved in promoting its home country by providing a platform for Greek regions and products.”
Aegean flies 47 jet aircraft, including one A319 and a mixture of A320s and A321s, on short-to medium-haul routes.
The overall group, which includes turboprop subsidiary Olympic Air, flew 12.5 million passengers in 2016 to destinations ranging from Amsterdam, Frankfurt, and London to Cairo, Moscow and Tel Aviv.
Aegean promotes Greek food and wine in its cabin service and passengers regularly say they are impressed by the friendliness of crew. It was also the recipient in 2017 of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Fast Travel Gold Award for its efforts to simplify and speed up the passenger experience.
While seat pitch on its planes is just 30 inches in economy and 33 inches in business, its frequent flyer program and connectivity benefit through its membership of the massive Star Alliance.
Plans for 2018 include a further strengthening of its position in Europe while offering a wider network of destinations.
It plans to connect Athens with 81 destinations while upgrading passenger facilities such as lounges and boosting its promotion of Greece.
The expansion includes 18 new routes, including 11 from its base in Athens and seven from Greek regional airports, expanding available seats in 2018 by 700,000 to 16.6m.
The airline has already moved on upgrading passenger lounges in Thessaloniki and Larnaca and says its lounge at Athens International Airport will be upgraded by year’s end. A second lounge at Athens is due for completion early next year.