PRESS RELEASE - Athens, April 30 2009





iForce Communications in collaboration with the Pan-Hellenic Union of Flight Personnel of the Security Forces and Public Sectors - P.E.I.P.S.A.D.Y. (Police, Harbour, Fire-Fighting, ER’s etc) and with the Association of European Journalists organized in Athens, Greece (30th of April 2009), for the third consecutive year the 4th Annual Conference entitled “Air Transportation Present and Future”. The conference was under the aegis of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications of the Hellenic Government, with the support of the Ministry of Tourism. The event was greatly supported many patrons and sponsors (see sponsors list at the end of release).

The conference was held at the Ministry of Transportation and Communications auditorium in Athens and provided a platform for members of the nascent Hellenic aviation community (private & public sector) to meet, lobby, exchange opinions as well as know-how transfer of regarding needs, innovations, developments, legal changes, upgrades and trade concerns.

The findings that were presented this year are related to the developments for the secondary Greek airports & holiday destinations as well as the nascent Hellenic Aviation Professional Training System (Pilots, Cabin Crew, Ground handlers and Engineers and Mechanics).

Chairing the conference and welcoming the participants and the audience was the CEO and President of iForce Communications, Mr. Fokion A. Zaimis. He was quoted as saying “In few months time, the Conference “Air Transportation Present and Future” will successfully complete its five years of presence since it was first launched as an idea by a small team of active professionals coming from the Hellenic Aviation Sector.

The ATPF is aiming to explore five major areas and sectors of Hellenic Aviation Environment such as the Airports, the Airlines, the Ground Handling System, the Hellenic Aerospace and the Regulatory Framework. This event has progressed four fruitful years on an annual basis and attracts target specific B2B professionals. ATPF has managed to promote and educate public officials and professionals about how the Hellenic aviation industry benefits local communities, the country and how it is linked with the Gross Domestic Product. The event has also become a magnet for the main aviation companies which are operating in Greece.

To date Sponsors, Contributors Supporters and attendants, of the annual event long with the guest speakers, participants and audiences the spirit of collaboration, healthy competition and development.

  The Ministries: of Transportation and Communications, Tourism, Home Affairs & Development and Foreign Affairs, The Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO) is a Public Entity (PE) supervised by the Ministry of Tourism.

  Organisations: AIA (Athens International Airport), the HCAA (Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority), ERA (European Regions Airline Association), AOPA Hellas (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the UPAO (Union of Pilots and Aircraft Owners) and the Cultural Union of Olympic Airlines,

  Companies: the Olympic Airlines (Marfin Investment Group), Olympic Airways, Lufthansa & Lufthansa Technic, Aegean Airlines, Ciel Airlines, Interjet, ABC Aviation Business Company, Egnatia Aviation Training, Didavia Aviation Academy,

  Media and Broadcast networks: ERT (National Hellenic Broadcast network), the Association of European Journalists, Ptisi & Diastima (Flight and Space Magazine), Remove Before Flight, 11 Aviation, European Expression, Kerdos (Main Financial Newspaper), Isotimia (Financial Newspaper) and News of INADE,

  Universities: The National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) the University of Patras, the Open University, the University of Aegean, the Technical Academy of Chalkida, INADE (Institute of Development of Western Greece),

According to Mr. Zaimis and various interest groups, “…through the years we have recorded, reported and exchanged opinions, problems, thoughts. The Annual Conference “Aviation Present & Future” has offered solutions, lobbied the government in order to consider the country’s aviation structures, bodies and assets as a dynamic prospering area that need attention, continuous care, inspection, progress and expansion”.

He concluded by expressing his vision that Greece has usually perfect weather conditions, exceptional diverse land an sea scapes with more than 40 airports which can easily become ‘‘ONE OF THE BEST COUNTRIES TO FLY’’ and close the existing gap with the rest of developed countries in the civil aviation sector if the Government will do the following:
A. Take the necessary political initiatives to modernize the existing legal framework and
B. Simplify the existing flight procedures and red tape.

Mr. Zaimis read a brief statement on behalf of Mr. Oliver Dillmann, Managing Director of ABC Aviation Business Company (Sponsor). Mr. Dillmann is expressing his sincere regards for the conference’s progress as well as his support stating that “in thorny times like this, it is much needed for the aviation organizations to be vigilant and proactive. Aviation companies need to design their operations with the care and the assistance of a specialist, according to safely and security EU rules and regulations. This generates trading confidence amongst the companies and trust to customers and clients”.

Opening greetings and remarks were given by Deputy Minister Mr. Michalis Bekiris from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications he stressed that Greece is a country with a great number of islands and mountainous clusters of where the 75% of tourist arrivals and movement are trafficked in by air. This is making the air transportation system and growth so vital for the future of Greece. The existing airports are linked directly with the most important Greek holiday destinations.

Additionally Minister, Mr. Kostas Markopoulos of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications was quoted as saying “The aviation system contributes to the Gross Domestic Product (GPD), as tourism is probably the biggest industry in Greece”.

Also greetings were delivered by the representative of Association of European Journalists, Mr. Thanasis Kalfas .

The Chairman of “PEIPSADY”, Police Officer and Pilot Lieutenant Mr. Yannis Syriopoylos said “The financial crisis does not effect greatly the General Aviation (GA) due to the fact that is a service upon demand with high networth value clients. If we observe the current global GA trends we could safely say that Greece due to its position could attract quality GA Tourism only and only when the Government will eventually include the aviation growth on its developmental plans as they stated on the provisions of EU Law 3299/2004 that includes private investment and investment incentives through subsidies, tax reductions or wage grants for new jobs in the sector of Aviation.


In her proposal the President of AOPA Hellas, Mrs. Yiouli Kalafati, presented a comparative report between Hellenic and European secondary airports, sharing with the audience complementary statistical results in order to support her thesis. She reminded the panel that Greece has more than 40 airports and a great number of airfields and airstrips few of which are private. And although there is a great potential for growth, due to bureaucracy and regulatory grey zones the private aviation environment is underdeveloped along with the airports and aviation related users. Travellers or tourists choose other destinations to visit, just to avoid mishandlings. Deregulation and law definitions have to occur, economic related exemptions have to happen and investment has to be made.

Mr. Antonis Felouris, Entrepreneur and Chairman of UPAO (Union of Pilots and Aircraft Owners), taking as an example the semi-closed Sparta airport (Peloponnesus), he indicated specific problems related to supply chains on AVGAS, Mogas, reporting lack of fuel supply, shortages on personnel, old infrastructures, mismanagement related to lack of organisation, limited operational timetabling and unrecorded charges on many secondary airports.

Dr. Dimitris Dimitriou, Airport Planning and Management Expert of Cranfield University, Dept of Aerospace Science Manchester University, CATE Hellenic Open University, Said that current trends and changes on tourism have an impact on the Hellenic air transportation system. These changes sweep along the aviation operational structures, therefore the bodies involved to the legislative sectors have to take into consideration these changes and act accordingly, changing their attitude, to begin with, and modifying the regulatory framework. During these early times of changes, the decision makers have to realise that environmental issues can not be excluded from airport and aviation strategic planning. Aviation global developments, airline models and aircraft design should be taken into account when designing these plans.

Mr. Tasos Tiniakos, Ground Operations Manager of Olympic Airlines (New Olympic - MARFIN INVESTMENT GROUP) said that while understanding the related to the Hellenic air transportation system data, it is an imperative need of growth to upgrade land infrastructures, aerospace and air navigation components qualities as well as management structures because those will eventually boost the new developmental dynamics in the sector.

(Pilots, Cabin Crew, Ground handlers and Engineers and Mechanics)

Mr. Konstantinos Machairas, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) DIDAVIA AVIATION ACADEMY, commenting on the international Market of Air Transportation and making historical retrospection in its growth from 1971 up to date, he presented the positive elements. He said that the airline system according to Boeing and Airbus data will need an average 18.000 pilots per annum in order to cover its needs and shortages. Greece could play a vital role. The country could remodel its system and create the capacity in order to accept and host more than 4.000 international-students-pilot-candidates annually. These students would prefer to choose Greece because of its location. Greece could become an educational centre for aviation and pilot related studies generating more than 130 millions euro revenue per annum.

Dr. Georgios Papanikolopoulos, Director of the Research Programmes Centre, Department of Mechanical Engineers and Aeronautical Studies, University of Patras spoke on the current situation with regard to the aeronautics. He analyzed the prospects and the present developments. He stressed that today in Greece the conditions, the infrastructures and the human factor that supports it (even without the eminent support of the government) are ready offer collaborations and create young and fresh academic products and potentials. The market is ready to offer partnership to foreigner institutions.

Mr. Kyriakos Kourousis, Mechanical Engineer (Bsc, Msc), Aeronautical Studies TEI (Thechnical Institution) City of Chalkida spoke about the Aircraft Technical Educational Environment as a component of the Airworthiness System and more specifically to the role of the line engineers and the maintenance systems of an aircraft. He analyzed the system in an effort to present the need of a healthy and technically mint operation.

During the conference, conclusive interventions where presented.

Mrs. Julie Poulaki, "MSc Tourism Planning, Management and Policy" University of the Aegean, referring to the first panel, she presented the results of her research with regard to the profile of the General Aviation (GA) tourists. She presented a statistical report connecting Tourism as a sector and the GA system as one of its components. Mentioning that according to GA departures and arrivals statistical report 41,7% of GA tourists spend more than 200 €/day and make 1-3 overnight stays, making them as high value tourists.

Mr. Dionyssis Masallas, Member of Union of European Journalists and Pilot himself, criticized the current inactivity of the Hellenic State and more specifically the HCAA for lack of positive attitude, elements which are partially responsible for lack of developments on the aviation and airport sectors.

In the discussion that followed Mr. Panayiotis Neufelt, Chairman and CEO of CIEL AIRLINES, S.A., said that an airport system (part of a larger business environment and vital component of a local community), the airspace and the legal framework of the air transportation system in Greece, all are elements of great National Importance. Consequently the transformation of the tendencies of the Hellenic State, are deeply influenced by its geopolitical and market strategic interests, financial abilities and its economic structures, foreign markets and foreign governments trust toward Greece, as well as the policies and strategies the government follows, which are also results of its current decision making. While the State shows an interest to support and develop its profitable systems (airports, airspace, ground handling and airline systems) due to certain choices, political necessities, market behaviour or foreign influences the state is unable to do so. In general terms the Hellenic Air Transportation Institutions, Bodies and Companies have common aims whish is the prosperity and the wellbeing and stable function of the market and aviation environment. However the tendencies, the placed necessities, the models of management and the interests that follow do change from organisation to organisation. Therefore the ground is far from common. The Hellenic State could not raise the standards, promote these changes and develop from the one day to the other, which means that prior to anything a Single National Strategy is needed to presented, strategy that will pave the ground for further developments and market stability of the air transportation system. Without a Single National Strategy we will continue to face losses.

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