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Greek holiday airports face the axe

- by Jeremy Guest

Greek holiday airports could face the axe.

Many of the lesser known holiday islands in Greece face losing their airport links to Athens and to other islands. Smaller airports on more than 20 Greek Islands face a shutdown as the country tries to meet bailout conditions for international loans. The holiday islands of Paros and Naxos are among those that could lose air links if the cash saving plans are implemented.

Other popular holiday destinations that could lose their airports are Skyros, Ikaria, Chios, Lemnos and Syros.

A total of 22 islands have been singled out for the airport axe despite strong resistance from islanders.

The closures would not only hit many who live on the islands and commute to the mainland it could also hit any attempts at developing the tourism market.

This is not the first time the idea has arisen of closing Greek airports on the more remote and less visited of Greece's islands.

The government rejected similar proposals earlier this year in the wake of strong protest from business leaders and the tourism industry.

But the idea has resurfaces as pressure mounts for the Greek government to shed loss-making state-run operations to meet demands from the EU to streamline its economy.

The Greek government has been taking drastic measures to cut spending and make government more efficient.

It is near four years since Greece was handed an international bailout but it has yet to make a serious dent in its national debt which is still running at €430 billion.

The government has implemented savage pay cuts, tax rises and pension cuts in order to reign in spending while selling off loss-making state assets helps to bring in more cash.

Meanwhile the unemployment rate continues to climb amid fears it could reach 30% as Greece imposes new austerity measures to meet financial targets.

Tourism is the only sector showing any signs of growth in Greece with a record number of holiday visitors predicted this year as many Greek islands report holiday visitors up around 10% this year.