Greece Lightning

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NOTE: The below originally appeared as the editorial in our July 17 One Minute Week newsletter. To find out more, and sign up for free, please click here.


I have spent the last week on a gruelling research trip in Greece to discover the effects of the bank crisis. Athens is getting a lot of coverage, but very few journalists have braved Corfu, the lovely island to the northwest of the mainland.

Apart from the occasional pile of rubbish waiting to be collected and some shops running low on change everything is fine. Corfu, like most of the Greek islands, relies on tourism (which accounts for about 20% of the Greek economy) and visitors will have few problems.

Taxi drivers say business is good. Shops and markets are well stocked. Restaurants have plentiful supplies of food; including hummus, tzatziki and taramasalata (no sign yet of a triple dip recession). Which is good as they are extremely busy. There is also a shortage of hire cars.

There are no queues at cash points and – for tourists at least – drawing money is easy. One reason for this is that tourists, scared by media reports, are bringing lots of cash to Greece. The islands have never seen so much physical cash arriving on every flight.

The hotels are full (including lots of Russians in the five star ones) and superyachts are moored in many of the island’s beautiful bays.

Greece’s business jet market is also holding up well. Although there are only 14 business jets registered in Greece, it is an important European business jet destination – accounting for 2.1% of European flights according to WINGX data. Traffic peaked in 2008 with 11,108 departures. Movements dropped for the next few years, reaching a low of 8,934 in 2010, but have since started climbing back. In 2014 there were 10,165 business jet departures, pretty close to movements in 2007. Greece’s share of the European business jet market has actually risen in the last few years.

The number of business jet departures has been volatile this year according to WINGX. Flights were up in January, March and June this year and down in the other months. Overall traffic is up.

About 31% of all Greek business aviation flights are domestic (which makes sense when you consider how many islands there are), with the next biggest markets being other European countries, Russia and the Middle East. As a destination, Greece’s business jet market is driven more by the state of other economies than the country itself. WINGX says that domestic flights are up 2.5% this year, with a slight drop in European flights (the UK and Germany are up) and a 1.8% fall in flights from Moscow. Flights from the Middle East are up.

The headlines are worrying – and riots in Athens and austerity are serious – but there are still lots of reasons to visit. Whether you come by business jet, superyacht or commercial flight.

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