The International Air Transport Association, abbreviated commonly to IATA, is a trade association of the world’s airlines, with over 290 member airlines (primarily major carriers) which represent a total of 117 countries worldwide. IATA’s member airlines account for carrying approximately 82% of total available seat miles of air traffic. As such, it is pretty major news when the associated revokes the membership of a carrier.
Early yesterday morning, Greek carrier Astra, had their membership suspended, a death blow to the administration state the carrier is currently in. Throughout the past few months, Astra has suffered many flight cancellations and signs of financial stress, leading to the Greek Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) to begin investigations of the carrier. Coupled with this, yesterday, according to Greek news agency Voria, Greece BSP office staff working for IATA were informed to terminate all activity with Astra Airlines with immediate effect; This included not accepting bookings, no longer issuing tickets and removing the codes used by the airline from their systems. Speaking publicly, Viron Theologi, President of the Association of Tourist Agencies said:
This morning at 10.10 we received a letter requesting us to stop booking and issuing tickets for Astra Airlines. This development is sad. I hope the gap created is somehow filled. The problem is particularly acute for the islands that connect to Athens and Thessaloniki via Astra. In fact, there is no ferry connection to these destinations from Thessaloniki, which makes the situation worse.
This marks a severe blow to the carrier, who sell majority of their tickets through Greek travel agents. Despite efforts to keep afloat, with battling fuel, salaries and operational costs, bonds with IATA would have to be restored to even be able to accept mass bookings once again. Astra has yet to comment on the matter, however has ramped up efforts to seek financial investors to come forward and allow the continuation of services. However, with this latest blow, chances of finding such an investor are beginning to look bleak.
Luckily, competitor Aegean has announced it will begin to ‘step up’ flights from the 17th November, adding a further 306 flights (Approximately 28,476 seats) to the most remote Greek destinations served by Astra. This move is welcomed by many, who fear the collapse of Astra could leave them stranded. Service increase will begin from Kos, Athens to Chios, Herakilon and Mytilene, Thessaloniki to Chios and Samos – Remaining in place until the 24th May, 2020.
What are your thoughts on this latest blow to Astra? Is the beginning of the end? Or is their still hope for the carrier? Let us know in the comments below!