Greece is renowned the world over for its shipping industry, being home to some of the world’s largest companies in that industry. Thanks to Athens International Airport, the country now has a recognized name in the airline industry as well. In just over 20 years since it was first founded, the airport has become one of the real success stories of Greece and is now leading its revival after the economic crisis.
2017 looks like setting another record year for passengers using the airport, eclipsing the 2016 record of 20 million people. In each of the past 4 years, passenger numbers have grown in double digits, and increasingly coming from more and more diverse regions. By its 2016 figures, the airport is the fifth most popular in Southern Europe and growing faster than any others in the top five. Hiring over 13,000 people, it also contributes over 2% to the Greek economy – meaning its success is inextricably tied to that of its country.
Athens International Airport S.A. was established in 1986 as a public-partnership, with the Greek state holding 55% of shares and the private sector holding 45%. It was the first major global greenfield airport with the participation of the private sector – with finance composed of bank loans, private shareholders equity and EU and Greek State grants.
The low-fare flight revolution still hadn’t gained much traction when Athens International Airport was given the green light, so its planners showed remarkable prescience in bringing the project to reality. Furthermore, it has weathered economic storms by creating a diverse set of revenue streams everywhere from a real estate portfolio to commercial and marketing operations in its terminals.
Setting benchmarks in aviation
One of the benefits of being a relatively new airport is the ability to look at what has worked and what hasn’t in airports across the globe. Primary among these are the highest standards in safety and security, efficient transfers for passengers, minimal delays on the ground or in the air and state-of-the-art technology and equipment.
Athens International Airport is also Greece’s first 24-hour airport operation, with operations on two independent runways and terminal capacity. While these have all proven attractive to international aviation companies in the past 20 years, they can also avail of attractive incentive schemes, which makes AIA more attractive relative to its competitors.
A balanced stakeholder-focused approach
The corporate policy of Athens International Airport is based on responsible and efficient collaboration with all of its stakeholder, right from its business clients and air travellers to its employees, shareholders and members of the local community. Because there is such a large government holding in the business, it needs to be reflected in a strong commitment to public service.
The policy applies to other areas of the Athens International Airport’s dealings as well, with the company looking to surpass expectations in the realm of corporate social responsibility wherever possible. The reality is that Athens International Airport serves as a first point of contact for many tourists and business people entering Greece, and what comes across is that it takes its role as national ambassador very seriously indeed.
Looking to the environment
As the nexus of a community of stakeholders, Athens International Airport is not alone in wanting to care for the environment. Since the airport’s inception, it has been a priority and AIA and its partners are committed to both protecting the environment and preventing or lessening impacts wherever possible, as reflected in the company’s Corporate Environmental Policy and procedures.
Environmental conditions are closely monitored at the airport and its vicinity, and it has implemented a number of initiatives based on international best practice for improving its environmental performance. The company is also in continuous engagement with its own employees, the airport community and local community to raise awareness about environmental issues.
Primary among the environmental initiatives in which the airport actively participates is that led by Airports Council International (ACI) Europe, which is aimed at managing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) with the cooperation of airport operators. Under their terms, Athens International Airport has been upgraded to level 3+ Neutrality of the Airport Carbon Accreditation Programme. 676
Last but not least, by investing strongly in the area of energy efficient infrastructure and operations since its foundation – and increasingly so over the past 10 years – the company has managed to significantly reduce its carbon footprint to the extent that it became the first carbon neutral airport in Greece in 2015 – a credit to the Environmental Management System which it has developed over the course of several years.
As the previous sections alluded to, Athens International Airport is just the nexus of a large number of stakeholders. Primary among these are the suppliers which allow it to maintain a world-class service to its passengers. Among them are Greek firms like Simon Technologies S. A, OFC Aviation Fuel Services and Generali Hellas Insurance, who look after technology, fuel and finance respectively.
Among the international partners are the German Materna Gmbh, Sweden’s ABB Aviation and Qatar’s Aktor Facility Management – providing services in technology, ancillary aviation services and facilities respectively. Many of these companies also bring expertise gleamed from other engagements which AIA can leverage at its base.
An Ancient City looks forward
The growth figures that Athens International Airport has experienced over the past few years tell their own story; one of the world’s historical focal points has an airport befitting such a title. Although the city around it is ancient, in just over 20 short years, AIA has become an integral part of the city’s infrastructure and its future growth. As Greece pulls further away from the recession which held it back for several years, Athens International Airport will play an important role in its burgeoning capital city.
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