The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) and the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) sent a joint letter to United Continental Holdings Inc.’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Jeffrey A. Smisek, to express disappointment with United Continental’s November 2011 decision to terminate the seasonal non-stop flight from Newark (EWR) to Athens, Greece, which was a Continental route.
In the letter, signed by Vasilis Mosaidis and the President of the AHI, Nikos Larigakis, it was stressed that “the Greek-American community would like to think United Continental—as the world’s largest airline—would be proud to offer its customers a direct flight to one of the leading countries of the world,” wrote AHI President Nick Larigakis and AHEPA Executive Director Basil Mossaidis. “Greece is the cradle of Western Civilization, providing its visitors with more than 2,500 years of rich culture and history. As one of the world’s Top 20 premiere tourist destinations, Greece blends its rich culture and history with contemporary indulgences that tourists from all over the world flock to enjoy—the beautiful beaches, numerous islands, religious landmarks, lively social interactions and unparalleled great weather during the summer season.”
Larigakis and Mossaidis strongly recommended United Continental to rethink the decision, and as an alternative, add a seasonal summer route from Washington/Dulles to Athens, thus connecting two of the world’s greatest capital cities.
They based their recommendation upon four factors detailed in the letter to Mr. Smisek: 1. Greece as a Top 20 tourism destination, 2. Greece’s commitment to lift sabotage restrictions and other measures to facilitate trade, commerce, and tourism, 3. a growing confidence in Greece thanks to a second EU loan and the tourism sector taking advantage of the current situation through increased travel and lodging deals, and, 4. a strong sense of commitment from the Greek-American community to help Greece.
In addition, Larigakis and Mossaidis requested a meeting with Mr. Smisek to discuss the issue in greater depth.