Greek airline Hellenic Imperial Airways is planning to launch scheduled services to at least a dozen destinations in Europe, Greece, the Middle East, South Africa and the United States.
Under route rights granted by the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority in December when it redistributed the rights of some former Olympic Airlines routes as stipulated by the European Union, Hellenic Imperial Airways won the right to fly schedules from Athens International Airport to Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport, Dubai International Airport, and Johannesburg International Airport.
However, the Athens-based carrier is also planning to launch schedules from Athens to Bucharest in Romania; Casablanca, Morocco; Damascus, Syria; Geneva, Switzerland; Jeddah in Saudi Arabia; Larnaca in Cyprus; London Luton or London Stansted; New York JFK; and Paris Orly.
Hellenic Imperial Airways has labeled the 12 international destinations as “Phase 1” of its planned scheduled-service expansion and says it also plans to operate scheduled domestic services to destinations on the mainland of Greece and in the Greek islands.
It is a good bet that the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority would issue approval to Hellenic Imperial Airways should the carrier seek authority to operate domestic schedules, or to offer scheduled service to additional international destinations.
On February 22, Greece’s two largest airlines ― Aegean Airlines and the newly constituted Olympic Air ― announced they planned to merge, in a deal which would create an overwhelming monopoly in the Greek airline industry. The European Union is reviewing the proposed deal and to foster competition is thought very likely to require Aegean and Olympic to give up some of their route authorities to have any chance of obtaining approval for their planned merger.
Hellenic Imperial currently operates a fleet of four Boeing 747-200Bs outfitted in high-density seating configurations: two are outfitted to seat 456 passengers each and two have 458-seat cabins. The airline has not yet indicated the aircraft type or types it plans to use for its extensive list of planned scheduled services, but it is certain that to remain competitive on many of the routes Hellenic Imperial has indicated it wants to serve, the carrier will need aircraft much smaller and more fuel-efficient than the 747-200Bs it now operates.
The airline has issued a notice seeking “reputable and financially sound” passenger general sales agents (GSAs) and cargo general sales and service agents (GGSAs) at all of the 12 international destinations it has indicated it plans to serve. The carrier is initially offering three-year contracts, based on “mutually agreed commission or service charges”, to the GSA and GSSA candidates whose applications it approves.
The Wikipedia entry for Hellenic Imperial Airways indicates the airline was incorporated in May 2006 by a team of industry veterans as a sub-service charter airline offering wet-leases of Boeing 747-200Bs on an ACMI basis ― that is, in addition to providing the aircraft to its lease clients, Hellenic Imperial also provided crews, maintenance and insurance for the aircraft. Among the 747s in its fleet are two former All Nippon Airways Boeing 747-200Bs. The Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority withdrew the operating certificates for some or all of Hellenic Imperial’s aircraft for a period in 2008 and 2009.
According to Wikipedia, Hellenic Imperial Airways began scheduled service on the Birmingham-Athens-Jeddah route on May 2009. The airline subsequently suspended the route until it could find aircraft that were better-suited for the service. By November 2009, Hellenic Imperial was also operating scheduled flights to Casablanca and Jeddah, operating the latter flights on behalf of other airlines as capacity for the annual Hadj pilgrimage.
In October 2009, Hellenic Imperial Airways applied for rights to fly scheduled and charter flights to the U.S. At press time, the request with US Department of Transportation was still pending approval.